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Web Site Review: PharMosaic

PharMosaic is a pioneering program that recruits underrepresented minorities into pharmaceutical marketing careers. Pharmaceutical marketing is a growing field whose professionals often lack the ideal combination of business and scientific backgrounds. This problem is compounded by the lack of minority representation. PharMosaic is committed to combating both of these problems.

The program is executed via the University of Mississippi's Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management. This provides the program with a strong organizational foundation, which is used as a springboard for collaborations with other academic institutions, companies, and several minority recruitment organizations.

PharMosaic is different from most minority science career programs because it targets students toward careers in industry, a trail that other programs should follow. Its mechanisms are also worthy of duplication: PharMosaic facilitates relationships among pharmaceutical companies, schools of pharmacy, business schools, high schools, colleges, and universities to further its goals.

Such an innovative program deserves a better Web site. And similarly, the site's excellent content should be better organized and more effectively presented. Unfortunately the presentation is mired in an abstraction that's too similar to its mosaic motif. Although the site content is organized within specific subsections, the site lacks upper-level organization. Instead of using a systematic hierarchy, subsections are placed in a loose and haphazard manner, which makes navigating through the site an exercise in attrition or chance.

The graphics contribute to the site's organizational problems. Some of the links are unclear and some graphic designs appear to be links but are not. The site design should enhance rather than detract from the site's message.

Despite the poor design and organization, PharMosaic delivers excellent content. The writing is thorough yet succinct and exceeds expectations. Moreover, users can contact or join the network online and enter specific areas set aside for high school and college students. While the "high school" area is more introductory, the "college" area contains more goal-oriented language and information.

This quality writing is particularly evident in the Web site's two best sections, "Career Choices" and "Top 50 Companies." The two sections are heavily integrated to improve their effectiveness. Users are treated to statistics, salary information, source references, and links, as well as the standard summary descriptions. PharMosaic also provides its own descriptions of the individual companies, instead of using the companies' own rhetoric. This provides the user with an outside perspective on the company that's easily accessible. Not all of the career descriptions or companies are complete and the format could be more consistent, but these are minor complaints.

Ironically, PharMosaic's weakest content is about its own services. PharMosaic mentions that it provides industry information, academic and career guidance, networking opportunities, scholarships, mentoring, internships, and fellowships to minority persons. However, more specific and more detailed descriptions would better serve the user.

The PharMosaic Web site provides insightful information for users by focusing on recruiting underrepresented minorities into the pharmaceutical sciences. However, the mismatch between the quality of the content and design is pronounced. The unique services and hard-to-find information provided by the PharMosaic Web site are hidden in the awkward design. Nevertheless, the changing economy and the small job market in academia increase the value of programs like this one.

Clinton Parks is a MiSciNet freelance writer working in Virginia. For further information, please e-mail Clinton at