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2. (CHUM 101) The Basis of Data

Note that the description and specifics of this course are drafts only, and wil be revised after consultation. Please send comments to Michael Best.

Possible Calendar entry:

The kinds of databases that are used in the Humanities, the concepts that the storage of information requires, and some basic programs that work with them. Library databases, the concept behind boolean searches, analysis of data structures. Some questions about the instability of Internet materials generated from databases, where the "page" the user accesses is created for that specific query. The effect of large databases of information about individuals.

Course content and objectives:


Submission of

  1. The construction of a simple database, using a generally available software package.
  2. Creation of a concordance using a dedicated concordance program, and exploration of patterns of word usage in the text base thus created.
  3. Exercises that require the successful use of boolean expressions in the Library database or an Internet search engine.
  4. Questionnaire(s) to test the reading of the additional materials on "wider issues" as outlined above.


The collection and organization of data are basic to many disciplines in the Humanities. The Library is the most central example, but an understanding of the power of a database in the processes of research in many fields will be a major asset to many students. If the University purchases a site license to the bibliography program EndNote, students could learn about the difference between a dedicated database program and a generic one which can be designed to handle many different kinds of data. In the process, students will learn about the different kinds of data they deal with regularly: plain text, formatted text, graphics, video or sound files, numeric data, and data that change, depending on other fields.

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