Databases: From Paper-Based to Web-Based

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the history of information, humans have moved relatively rapidly from an oral storytelling tradition, to manuscripts, to printed books, to filing systems, to databases. Databases were created to solve problems with file-oriented systems (Sol, 1998). The rapid growth of networked information resources and information representation have led to a reassessment of tools and techniques for information management. World Wide Web technologies play a central role in redesigning information management tools (Shiri and Revie, 2000).

Organizing and retrieving information in a databases with a limited volume of information is fairly straightforward, but as the Internet emerged, information storage and retrieval changed radically (Isfandyari, 2005). As a result, a new generation of databases called WBDBs have been created to meet user needs. Although some research such as Doldi, et al. (2005) shows that the web has reached a level of maturity in regard to scientific and qualitative content and can be considered a worthwhile source of scientific information, the present article emphasizes the important role web-based databases (WBDBs), free and fee-based, play in better and relevant information retrieval.

What is a database?

A database is a collection of data that is organized for easy storage and access These include paper-based tools like dictionaries and libraries of print materials. Computerized databases have existed for decades, and online databases are a product of the earliest days of the Internet. A web-based database (WBDB) is an organized listing of web pages (Nicholson, 2002). Online databases and WBDBs are widely available to library patrons in the entire world, and many patrons can tap into these databases from their own computers (Falk, 2005). According to Doe (2004), WBDBs are collections of information that we use all the time. In another viewpoint, Garman (1999; quoted in Xie, 2004) names online WBDB systems, such as Dialog, Lexis-Nexis, the original, or ultimate search engines, and believes that the search engines of today owe much to these originals.

History of Databases

Databases have their origin in efforts at office automation by IBM and other companies in the 1960s and 70s, resulting in models and technology that are still in use (CERN, 2000). Databases grew from an early database management system (DBMS) in the early 1960s, through networked and hierarchical relationships for data, to SQL-based and relational database models that are in use today (Zaki 2002)

Client/Server database

Most databases in use nowadays are relational databases, but client/server databases are the basis for WBDBs. They are set up to operate 24 hours a day and are used by ISPs as well as individuals (Sol, 1998). The most common language used by relational databases is SQL.

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Functionality of WBDBs

Feiler (1999; quoted in Wyllys, 2003) distinguishes four purposes for WBDBs:

* Web publishing

* Web data sharing

* E-commerce

* Database-driven websites

Search features included in WBDBs

Most WBDBs offer an advanced or "power" search that lets users be specific (Tarleton State University Libraries, 2004). The following images show examples of this type of search interface:

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Frequently, databases also provide other ways for users to limit (narrow) searches. A few standard search limiters (restrictors) are listed and described below:

* Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed--limits results to items from academic journals

* Document Type--limits results to a specific type of item (for example, abstract, article, book review, editorial, report, and so on)

* Full Text--limits results to items that are available online in full text format.

* Publication Date--limits results to items in a specified time period. …