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Dagobert Soergel
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

How does one design a database?

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Paper presented at the New York Library Association Conference, Academic & Special Libraries Section, October 13, 1988


Conceive idea

Agency databases - between public and personal.

Analyze requirements

Define user group. Internal vs. external.
Analyze users' background and tasks/problems and resulting information needs.
Determine which of these information needs are or can be met by existing databases.
Decide which of the remaining information needs should be met through the new database (subject to an evolving cost-benefit analysis).

Design the database

Decide on the coverage for the new database.
Prepare a list of potential data sources.
Develop the conceptual schema.
Decide on an approach to indexing.
Decide on an approach to searching and the user-system interface.
Adapt or develop a thesaurus that supports the approach selected.
Select tools for implementation (hardware, software, print) and determine data structure/file formats.

Cost-benefit analysis in database design

Problem- or request-orientation in database design

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