Databases for historians II: practical database tools
The aim of this course is to develop further practical skills in constructing and fully exploiting databases for use in historical research. Assuming a basic understanding of the conceptual issues, the course will introduce techniques to conduct more complex analysis and to present the results in graphical form for greatest comprehension and impact.
Following on from Databases for Historians I, the aim of this course is to develop the practical skills necessary for constructing and fully exploiting a database for use in historical research. Assuming a basic understanding of the conceptual issues in digitally managing information from historical sources, the course aims to introduce the tools and techniques required for improving the utility of the database from the data entry stage through to the generation and presentation of analysis.
The first half of the course covers the construction of the 'database application', principally in terms of the building of an interface to aid the data entry process. Techniques for both speeding up and simplifying data entry, and also for maintaining the consistency and integrity (and therefore the 'quality') of the entered data, are introduced: multiple table input forms, controlled vocabularies, automated value generation and conversion, and navigation controls are covered. The second half covers the need for good quality data in historical research, how to achieve this, and how to perform and present analysis based on historical research questions: complex queries, exporting results to a variety of formats (including reports and web pages), the graphical presentation of data, and the issue of documentation are the areas covered in this part of the course.
The course consists of 'hands-on' practical sessions in which students are provided with practical guidance on employing these techniques through the use of Microsoft Access. Familiarity with the basic concepts of database use is required: participants should be confident working with Microsoft Access, and should have some knowledge of working with data tables and simple queries.
The course is open to postgraduates, academics and all who are interested in using databases to organise or analyse historical data. Places are strictly limited and early application is strongly recommended.