references in databases

Robin Panza panzar at CLPGH.ORG
Thu Dec 4 10:54:23 CST 1997

>1.  Do you have separate fields for each piece of information (e.g.
>author(s), date, title, publisher, etc.), or do you use only only a few
>fields that encompass most of the information?

I have three suggestions/points:

a) Choose your fields according to how you think you might wish to retrieve the
information.  If you expect to want to find out what journals have published
the most descriptions or you want a list by journal name, keep the citation
separate from author/date/title.  If you want to generate a chronological list,
keep dates separate.  If you think you want to retrieve data sorted by
publisher, then keep that in it's own field, and so on.  If you simply want
to be able to generate a bibliography, then you could leave the whole thing as
one field.

b) Since you're creating a relational database, you can also consider space
(file size).  In particular, journals/books could be in a separate file from
the list of citations (linked by a code to the main records).  This makes the
main records smaller because it doesn't need space for journal names, and makes
the overall system smaller, because there is not the redundancy of what can be
a rather large field (journal/book title).  Anything you could (or would like
to) pull out into a secondary file needs to be in its own field.

c) It is generally easier to combine fields than to split them (although with
some software it's difficult to do either).  Therefore, I suggest erring on the
side of too many fields rather than too few.

Robin K Panza                   panzar at
Section of Birds, Carnegie MNH
Pittsburgh  PA  15213  USA

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