Week 7 (Feb 27, Mar 1):

Tuesday: From Spreadsheets to Relational Databases

  • Learning Objectives:
    • Understand the concept, strengths, and structure of relational databases
  • Readings:

Study Guide:

Today we look more closely at the data structure of relational databases. Schreibman et al. (2004) discusses the design and implementation of a simple relational database in general terms, and Fuller (2015), one of the designers of CBDB, lays out the rationale for relational databases as a more effective way of organizing data with specific references to CBDB.

Consider the following questions:

  • What is a relational database?
  • Compared to Excel spreadsheets, what advantages does a relational database have in organizing complex data?
  • What issues do we need to consider first when creating a relational database?

Thursday: CBDB and Spatial Visualizations

Study Guide:

  1. Review the basics of creating a relational database in Microsoft Access and building queries. Watch the following tutorials, if necessary, on the Microsoft website: Access 2013 videos and tutorials. Each video is a few minutes long.
    • On building a relational database: “Design and build tables for a database (Access basics, part 1),” “Create table relationships (Access basics, part 2),” and “Create your first Access 2013 database”
    • On creating queries: “Introduction to queries (Access basics, part 3 )” [The first three videos cover the basics we learned on Tuesday]
    • To review what we learned in class, you may also download the Access database we created. Click here.
  2. Explore one or two of the websites listed above. Consider: What data does each site collect and share? How does each site organize its data? What types of queries does it allow? How is it different from CBDB? The following presenters should prepare a 5-minute presentation on the assigned site. In your presentation, introduce briefly what data each website hosts and give one or two demonstrations of how to query data from it. No Powerpoint slides necessary.
  3. Open the MS Access version of CBDB. Use Chapter 3 in Fuller’s The China Biographical Database (CBDB) User’s Guide as your guide, and try creating a few queries in CBDB. To enter the different “LookAt…” forms, click the querying buttons in the welcome interface (i.e., navigation panel) of the CBDB. For example, click the “Query Office Holding” button to enter the “LookAtOffices” form described in Chapter 3, Section C of the User’s Guide.