Bibliography project

Jane McGary
Mon, 27 Oct 2003 16:14:33 PST
Rodger Whitlock wrote, The proper form of a relational database for a 
bibliography is a
>very difficult problem to solve. The data does not lend itself
>readily or obviously to the relational model. Rather than try to
>devise a home-brew solution, those interested are well advised to
>conduct a careful and thorough literature search and determine what
>solutions have been devised by more experienced people.

I am in fact in the process of doing that. I have an old friend who is a 
specialist in this type of computing and have just sent him an outline of 
what we need to do, and asked him to recommend models that have worked well 
in similar situations.

Indeed, the planning will encompass the kinds of questions Rodger accuses 
us of not having asked. I've already mentioned some of them. To reply to 
his specific points:

(1) how complete is this bibliography to be?

It cannot be complete for the scientific literature, which can be accessed 
through other tools already anyway. If it just gets the user to widely 
accessible documentation, that seems like a good target. We need to compile 
a list of the kinds of questions potential users are likely to need 
answered, and then we can evaluate the coverage. In any case, some of the 
entries have their own extensive bibliographies, and this can be mentioned 
in the annotation.

>(2) who is going to provide the data? and

I had envisioned this as a cooperative effort, with my own work as a 

>(3) who is going to exercise data quality control?
If I enter (or edit) the data and someone else proofs them, is that quality 

>(4) in the long term, how are you going to ensure continuity of
>support and function? The bulb literature is not static and any such
>compilation will require ongoing work to keep it current.

That's why I was proposing it as an electronic entity, not a paper publication.

>It is also worthwhile remembering that such indexes as Botanical
>Abstracts exist, and no doubt some institutions (the RHS and Kew, in
>particular) may have in-house indexes. What is the relationship of
>the proposed bibliography to such existing databanks?

The proposed bibliography would not cover the same topic range as these, 
though I envision some overlap. Don't you have to pay a subscription fee to 
access Botanical Abstracts? Ours should be free.

Please -- this is still just a bundle of ideas. No need to attack them yet!

Jane McGary

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