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Resource selection criteria

Womenshealth.gov is recognized as a leader in women's health information. Our content is structured around publications and organizations that provide information on women's health and other health-related topics. By adding your organization to our database, we can refer our visitors to the information you provide.

We're always looking for new resources to link to from trustworthy organizations. We have selection criteria in place to make sure the organizations we link to and the resources they provide are credible and reliable. If you think your organization meets our standards, we invite you to fill out our resource suggestion form. Please review our selection criteria before you submit your organization for consideration.

  1. Introduction

    1. Credible organizations and publications
      We review each organization and publication to establish its general reliability and credibility. Organizations are also reviewed to establish their ability to respond to inquiries from the public. Once an organization is approved, its contact information, mission statement, and a description of its information and referral services are entered into the womenshealth.gov database.

    2. Selected publications
      One or more of an organization's web-accessible resources (publications) may be abstracted separately to simplify consumer access. Publications include individual documents and other information resources such as brochures, fact sheets, reports, journals, directories, bibliographies, databases, and health risk assessments. The organization sponsoring an individual web resource is identified so the user has the option of reviewing the source of the information. Womenshealth.gov monitors the URLs in our database, but given the frequent changes and crosslinking that are common on the Internet, we cannot verify the accuracy of specific publications.

    3. Characteristics of organizations reviewed
      The organizational characteristics commonly assessed in our selection processes include:
      • Nature of the organization – We will consider published information from government, educational, professional, nonprofit, voluntary, and research organizations and foundations.
      • Nature of the information and services offered by the organization – We will consider publications, databases, bibliographies, research or clinical trial summaries, and telephone hotlines or other counseling services. Topics we will consider include health-related information about financial assistance, technical assistance, and support group activities, as well as consumer-geared clinical information.
      • Indicators of service area/capacity of the organization to respond to inquiries – Examples of factors we consider include: financial assistance requirements, membership requirements, and stated ability to respond to information requests, whether via the Internet or through traditional information and referral service. We consider toll-free information services or individual counseling services, free or low-cost information and services, and published information about national, state, or local services.
      • Quality of the information and services offered by the organization – Womenshealth.gov staff will review published information (primarily web-based) from each organization for general consistency and credibility. Organizations should provide a substantial amount of consumer health information as part of their mission, and that information should be current, consistent with basic science and recommendations of recognized authorities, and well-designed. Responses to test inquiries by telephone and email should be professional. Staff qualifications relative to information and services provided should be appropriate, and use of an advisory board will also be considered. Specific content and/or target audience(s) should be appropriate for the womenshealth.gov collection.
      • Reputation of the organization in the information and referral community – Womenshealth.gov staff will attempt to identify any gaps in this regard. Federal content partners with specific expertise in content areas will be referred to as part of the general review process to help ensure credibility. Identification of the organization as a resource on federal agency websites will also be considered.
      • Sources of support – Published information about grants, membership income (professional, voluntary, or support/self-help), publication sales, sponsorship, public-private partnership, government, etc. will be considered. Sponsorship and advertising policies of commercial sites will be considered.

    4. Characteristics of publications reviewed
      The characteristics commonly assessed in the publication selection process include:
      • Nature of the publication and the authoring organization
      • Nature of the information and services offered by the organization
      • Reputation of the organization in the information and referral community
      • Capacity of the organization to respond to public inquiries
      • Capacity of the organization to fulfill requests for the publication forwarded by womenshealth.gov on the behalf of our callers via fax, email, or Internet.
      • Publication is offered free to public
  2. Selection of organizations and web resources

    1. Nomination
      Womenshealth.gov offers users an opportunity to recommend an organization or resource for consideration. Requestors seeking addition of a resource to womenshealth.gov should read the selection criteria and then submit the resource suggestion form to womenshealth.gov.

    2. Breadth of the collection
      Womenshealth.gov includes both consumer- and professionally-oriented information.

    3. Types of organizations included
      Womenshealth.gov will include organizations providing information and/or referral services for each topic in the index. These organizations will be selected primarily from:
      1. Government and non-commercial organizations, including:
        • U.S. government agencies
        • National voluntary, nonprofit, and professional organizations
        • Universities, other educational institutions, and libraries
        • Organizations partnering with government agencies to provide information to the public and other public-private partnerships
        • State and local government agencies offering information services useful beyond their geographic boundaries
        • Patient support and advocacy groups, including self-help groups
        • Foundations

      2. Certain commercial organizations that offer substantial and free web resources as a public service, such as:
        • Online journals and newsletters
        • Large indexes and bibliographies of information
        • Web resources or services not available from a government agency

        Organizations need not have an Internet presence to be included in womenshealth.gov; those with traditional information and referral activities will also be included.

        Note on marketing and advertising: Generally, websites that feature the sale of commercial products or services will not be selected. However, the presence of advertising will not automatically disqualify an organization or web resource. For example, a nonprofit might link to a corporate sponsor's website, or a commercial site might feature advertising on its site, but not in the resource specifically selected. Some commercial sites may have licensed significant content from nonprofit or educational institutions (for example, Mayo Clinic, National Health Council, and Johns Hopkins University all have licensing arrangements). Also, any organization or web resource will be excluded from womenshealth.gov if its website's presentation or content would lead a reasonable consumer to infer endorsement of products or services by the U.S. government. All final decisions on selection are made at the discretion of the Office on Women's Health.

    4. Evolving standards for information quality on the Internet
      Each organization will be evaluated according to published information (primarily web-based) as to its adherence to general standards for quality of health information on the Internet, including clear identification of sources of information and funding, sponsoring organizations, staff qualifications, internal review/quality assurance methodology, and privacy practices, as well as currency and scientific accuracy. Examples of evolving standards include:
    5. Accessibility to the technologically disadvantaged and the disabled
      Womenshealth.gov considers technological and design factors affecting the accessibility of organizations' websites in the selection process. Our goal being choosing web resources accessible to the womenshealth.gov target audience of consumers, new Internet users, and users of public Internet access points provided by libraries, schools, kiosks, nonprofit groups, etc. These factors include:
      • Network bandwidth requirements (size of graphics and other files, including advertising, and effect on speed of access via a common dial-up connection)
      • Compatibility with older web browsers and text browsers used in conjunction with assistive devices to accommodate disabled users as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (use of tables, frames, audio, video, image maps, etc.)
      • Ease of navigation (clarity of design, logic of site flow, search instructions, etc.)
      • Use of 'cookies' and other tracking technologies that profile users, which may intimidate new users, raise privacy concerns, and reduce accessibility from public access facilities.
      • Registration requirements for access
    6. Balance of the collection
      Womenshealth.gov will include organizations regardless of whether their information is online or in print only. However, because womenshealth.gov itself contains web-based information and many of our consumers' expect that our information resources should be web-accessible, it is preferred that all selected publications are available both on the Internet and through ordering.

    7. Types of publications
      Depending upon the availability of suitable resources, womenshealth.gov will select publications in the following formats for a given topic:
      • Question and answer format
      • Digital brochures, publications, fact sheets, reports, etc. presenting consumer-oriented information about the topic
      • Interactive resources such as online quizzes, electronic public service announcements, and health risk assessment tools
    8. Support and self-help group issues
      Womenshealth.gov's selection policy treats support and self-help groups as organizations subject to the same credibility evaluation as other organizations nominated for inclusion in womenshealth.gov. Patient-run organizations should meet all criteria for inclusion. Special attention will be given to the presence of an appropriate advisory board, moderation of online discussion activity by a trained professional, and use of disclaimers concerning medical advice and consultation with health professionals.

    9. 'Sunset clause'
      Publications are periodically reviewed for currency. Usually when a publication is three to five years old, it is tagged to be deselected from the collection unless it has been revised or updated. Tagged items are reviewed by womenshealth.gov staff before they are deactivated. Exceptions to this automatic de-selection may be items that are unique or of exceptional merit due to format or content. Recommended additions and deletions resulting from this activity will be handled through the same review process as new acquisitions.

    10. De-selection
      All organizations and web resources in the womenshealth.gov collection may be recommended for deletion at any time if they do not continue to meet the general selection guidelines.

    11. Recommendations for de-selection
      Recommendations regarding deletion of organizations or web resources will be accepted through the same mechanisms as nominations for additions.

  3. Notice of selection/request for update to organizations

    1. When OWH reaches a decision regarding the inclusion of the organization or publication, womenshealth.gov will send a notification email or letter to the interviewing party. This notification letter will include information about womenshealth.gov, its selection policies, HHS’s non-endorsement policy, and any specific factors that led us to our final decision regarding inclusion of the organization in our database.

  4. Disclaimers

    1. Womenshealth.gov provides information to help advance women's health research, services, and public and health professional education. The materials contained on this site and in its resources are not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional. References to any non-government entity, product, service, or source of information that may be contained in this site should not be considered an endorsement, either direct or implied, by the Office on Women's Health (OWH) or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Neither OWH nor the Department is responsible for the content of any non-federal Web pages referenced in this website.

If you think your organization meets our standards, we invite you to fill out our resource suggestion form. Please review our selection criteria before you submit your organization for consideration.

Content last updated October 27, 2010.

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