Teaching and Research: HSS Seal of Excellence

The HSS Seal of Excellence was conceived in 2001 and approved by the HSS in 2004 as a means of identifying and acknowledging exceptional scholarly and teaching materials in the History of Science increasingly available on the Web. The rationale of the HSS Seal of Excellence is to encourage colleagues in the History of Science and related areas to develop and use sophisticated electronic resources in teaching, research, and public outreach, and further, to establish the HSS as a clearinghouse by showcasing and supporting the highest standards of academic rigor and innovation. In practice, the Seal of Excellence displayed at individual WebSites and WebPages will link back to the HSS Site where viewers will find a complete list of recipients, most with reciprocal links. The electronic HSS WebSeal of Excellence can be added easily to the recipient’s WebPage or WebSite, as appropriate.

What follows is a brief overview of the nomination procedures and criteria for the two Seals of Excellence, followed by practical considerations in the evaluation process.  For complete details, please see the long version linked below.

(1) Nominations – Overview:
An open nomination procedure will be used for two HSS Seal of Excellence, 1) the HSS WebSite Seal of Excellence; and 2) HSS WebPage Seal of Excellence.  WebSites and WebPages may be nominated by anyone.  It is expected that most nominations will initially be submitted by CoE Members, and as the project becomes better known, nominations we sent by HSS members and the wider web audience. Clear criteria for the Seals of Excellence ensure that the highest academic standards are maintained and encouraged.  These Seals are granted on the basis of traditional academic criteria for teaching and research.  Selected sites reflect authoritative scholarship, substantial content, and time-honored skills in research, teaching, and public outreach.  The HSS CoE will select candidates according to criteria outlined more fully in the Guidelines linked below.  As appropriate, the CoE will consult HSS Members and noted specialists on issues of content and audience.

(2) Technical Criteria:
(a) Web sites must be written in a manner that provides access to viewers using widely distributed browsers. The need for highly specialized software or unusual “plug-ins” is discouraged.
(b) Web pages should be viewable on most screen resolutions. Although screen formats are trending toward higher resolutions, users with lower resolution displays should have access. For example, if page elements do not fit on a 680×480 format, unseen elements should be made accessible with scroll bars.
(c) Use of new technologies and innovative features is encouraged.  Such features should be used to enhance site operation not as a substitute for content.
(d) A means to navigate the Web site should be provided; viewers should be able to navigate throughout the site and return to the entry point. Use of navigation buttons, frames, or standardized boarders can provide the necessary tools.

(3)  Format for Content – Overview (Please see complete Guidelines for details):
(a)  Content
must be developed and maintained at the appropriate level.  Sites at all ‘levels’ from K-12 to university undergraduate, graduate, and scholarly research will be considered.  Appropriate criteria will vary depending on the key or targeted audience. (b)  Links should be functional; Web pages should be designed to load quickly. Unnecessary gimmicks, large high resolution pictures, overuse of action icons, and background music should be avoided.
(c) Sites must post an email contact address in a prominent location and the contact person must be able to respond to inquiries in a timely manner.   A standard disclaimer concerning content of links is required in accepting a Seal of Excellence.
(d)  Sites should make every reasonable effort to accommodate viewers with disabilities.

(4)  Appearance – Overview:
(1) The WebSite opening page should be designed to establish and maintain the interest of the viewer.
(2) Layout should provide a visually appealing framework to display materials with effective use of graphics, images, backgrounds, frames, and borders can enhance the effectiveness of the site.
(3) Appearance of a Web site should present a consistent appearance, a functional and aesthetic uniformity, visually by means of page format, color schemes, and identification headers, with consistent applications of text size and style.  There should be standardized navigation between site pages.

(5)  Selection Procedure – Overview:
(1) Judges will assign each website or webpage a rating for the basic categories of criteria above. In reaching a rating, judges will consider the specific criteria listed within each category.
(2) The average rating will be determined for each website on each of the criteria by each judge; evaluations will be ongoing throughout the year.
(3) Other Considerations:
Feedback:  No formal or written feedback will be provided to recipients.  If recipients wish to discuss criteria and suggestions for improving the Site or Page, this is best achieved informally.  Web Changes:  To anticipate possible difficulties involving future changes in a WebSite or WebPage between judging and the Seal of Excellence announcement, a copy of each winning website will be stored on hard disk.  This may also anticipate potential issues following receipt of a Seal of Excellence.  Time Limit of Seal of Excellence:  At present there is no time limit on how long the electronic Seal of Excellence may be displayed.  All pages and sites will be reviewed at least every three years to ensure timely updating and appropriate maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enter?
You can enter by submitting by sending your information containing your name, email address, age, URL, site title, description, language and category to HSS Seal of Excellence.

Which sites are eligible?
Personal, institutional, and in certain instances commercially supported sites are eligible.  Sites written in English, Spanish, Dutch, German, French, and Italian are eligible.

Who can nominate a site?
Any WebSite or WebPage of excellent quality devoted to the History of Science can be nominated by anyone.

How long is the review time period?
The review process usually takes 90 days.

What is more important to you, design or content?
Both content and design are important.  HSS Seal of Excellence are based on scholarly rigor and content as well as effective presentation in teaching and public outreach.

Do I have to display the Seal of Excellence?
No.  Although. HSS Seal of Excellence represent a prestigious acknowledgement for your efforts, recipients need not display the Seal of Excellence.  However, if the electronic Seal of Excellence is not displayed at the appropriate Page or Site, those recipients will not be listed on the HSS CoE Recipient List.

Do you require a link back to your site?
Yes.  If the recipient elects to display the electronic Seal of Excellence, a link will be established to the HSS CoE site as well as from the HSS CoE site to the recipient’s site.

For more complete details please consult the HSS Guidelines here.