CAMPAIGNS: Weekly Web Watch - Science site is Wellcome net facility

Organisation: Glaxo Wellcome and the Association of British Science Writers

Organisation: Glaxo Wellcome and the Association of British Science Writers

Issue: Scientific website for journalists


For journalists with a query of a scientific, health or medical nature there is a new website that enables them to pinpoint the best source of information and to obtain dates of forthcoming events. This is good news too for PR agencies and in-house departments as journalists will be sourcing information from, and attending events held by, companies at the forefront of their fields.

Set up by pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Wellcome and the Association of British Science Writers, The Year Ahead in Science site can be accessed via links on the Glaxo Wellcome or Association of British Science Writers sites. Rather than focusing on Glaxo Wellcome's brands, the idea behind the site is to build and cement the company's relationship with the scientific media, highlighting the corporate brand as research and science-based.

The homepage has simple visuals and layout that are consistent throughout. Glaxo Wellcome's therapeutic and science communications manager Rob Cohen introduces the venture with a few words and invites suggestions and feedback.

To the left of Cohen's blurb the site's sections - 'search', 'browse', 'year ahead by e-mail', 'links' and 'site credits' - are listed.

In 'search' a story is flagged up stating that following a 30-year embargo data from the Public Record Office is made available on the first working day of each new year. A telephone number for the enquiries office is given. Users can then search using a key-word engine. Inputing 'climate change' brought up information about a European conference to be held this November on abrupt climate change dynamics as well as a link to the European Science Foundation's website.

'Browse' enables the user to look at the year ahead, and also at significant dates of the past. It is illustrated with a series of 12 photographic images representing each month of the year.

January shows a surgeon pointing implements at a patient's head, presumably delving into their cranium. Clicking on the month reveals a day-by-day breakdown. For example, click on 5 January and there is notification of a Control of Flower Initiation meeting in Warwick. There is also a link to a site about aviation pioneer Amy Johnson who crashed into the Thames and died on this day in 1941.

'The year ahead by email' section allows the user to register to an e-mail service which sends out Glaxo Wellcome press releases. The 'credits' section speaks for itself - among others, Cohen is credited as Year Ahead project manager.

Overall, the website is effective because it is simple. The fact that it provides only brief information through the search facility but with links to authoritative websites is encouraging and ideally means that the user can source extensive and ultimately unbiased information, despite it being backed by a commercial organisation.

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