When the Communication Sciences and Disorders Dome (The Dome) debuted, I (RFS) signed up for a trial subscription. Having taught multi-hour workshops at the American Academy of Audiology on searching the Internet, I was interested in how this fee-based Internet service specializing in communication disorders would facilitate acquisition of resources.
When I entered an initial sample of diagnostic topics, the resulting searches produced a wealth of MedLine resource listings, which were otherwise available directly from Medline—at no charge. I resolved to let some development time elapse and revisit the site.
This time, as The Dome is marketed to both audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs), I asked the opinion of my wife and partner, Carol, an SLP who provides clinical services and consults to school districts in the area of language and auditory processing disorders. Hence this month's joint authorship. According to Carol, The Dome:
- ❖ generates resources representing research/text material/programs focused on singular topics determined by the reader;
- ❖ provides a rich store of resources, organizations, educational publishers and journal articles, mostly in abstract form—full articles available at additional charge for clinicians and parents;
- ❖ allows a clinician to prepare presentations focused on a specific topic with significant references;
- ❖ facilitates the location of therapy materials online through many publishers without the cumbersome task of sorting through catalogs;
- ❖ provides convenient access to the most contemporary professional research and publications on any selected topic;
- ❖ can store information, references, and notes for easy access;
- ❖ permits on-line storage of references and comments on its own web site, which is open to designated students, clinicians, patients, and parents;
- ❖ provides documentation on communication disorders that can be used to provide additional data to third-party payers, claims reviewers, or physicians;
- ❖ has a unique listing of textbooks, including not only the basic information but also the tables of contents and, more importantly, the topical indices (texts are available for purchase directly though the web site);
- ❖ has an introductory Macromedia Flash tutorial, which was informative but would benefit from some in situ hands-on interludes;
- ❖ should lose the New Age background music.
When Carol finished her observations, she insisted on ordering a full, paid subscription when our 30-day trial expired.
AN AUDIOLOGIST'S PERSPECTIVE
From my perspective as an audiologist, I find all Carol's positive comments to be valid. However, there appear to be some gaps and inconsistencies that require attention. For example, it would be helpful to have a URL index of all audiology and SLP periodical publications, both peer-review and trade, which could be reviewed directly. The traditional, even puritanical, argument that publications like The Hearing Journal and Hearing Review are not peer-reviewed and therefore not cited is negated by the inclusion of articles from these journals in The Dome's “expert” bibliographies. From serving on ANSI committees for Hearing Aids, Aural Acoustic Immittance, and Real-Ear Measurement, I know that research in trade publications is routinely cited.
Some articles in Ear and Hearing can be obtained in free, full text on the Lippincott Williams & Wilkins web site, but are listed only as abstracts in a Dome search. A search of some topics in ASHA journals produced only references to abstracts, not the abstracts themselves. As most audiologists, SLPs, and students belong to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, they have access to the full text of ASHA journal articles. A link to facilitate this connection would be helpful.
Like Steve Martin's character in The Jerk looking for his own name in the telephone directory, I was inspired to search some topics where I had a publication track record.
A search under “Video Otoscopy” produced six references, including my 1997 JAAA article on that topic. Eight “web resources” were listed, the first of which was a hardly unbiased MedRx commercial web site! My own comprehensive VO web site, Audiology Forum: Video Otoscopy (www.rcsullivan.com) with 190,000 site visits to date, was nowhere to be found. A Google search of outside links to my VO site produced more than 500 URLs. Finally, a search for my dissertation topic drew a blank. The web site Dissertation Express, at wwwlib.umi.com/dxweb/gateway, produced the reference immediately.
If these oversights are representative—and I'm not paranoid enough to suspect otherwise—one should continue to use traditional search engines, such as Google, to supplement the focused output from The Dome.
In summary, the concept of The Dome is excellent and user-friendly. It would benefit from a less restrictive approach to information gathering, allowing for judicious application of caveat lector. I will be ordering a subscription as per Carol's request.