DARP Papers Database
(Reading Lists Development Phase)


Description of the Project and its Objectives

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   This is DARP's Online Papers Database, containing more than 300 Economics Working Papers and Articles from different sources. The articles are stored as standard Adobe PDF files.
   The aim of the project is to find an easy and useful device to construct Online Reading Lists for Academic Staff and Students. In this working example, the Database is divided in two parts: a Papers Database, containing all the articles, and a Reading Lists Database, containing detailed information about the relevant course and links to the required articles in the Papers Database.
   This project was structured in several phases. The first involved data entry, creating individual records for each of the articles and working papers in an Microsoft Access Database, and the conversion of all the files to the PDF format. The second phase was setting up a fully functional Web Access to the Access Database, allowing users to remotely Edit, Add, Delete and manage the Database. This was implemented using Microsoft's ASP technology and a Public Domain utility called Generic Database. The third phase involved the construction of a link between the Papers and Reading Lists Databases.
   The "natural" evolution for this project is to allow Academic Staff to construct the reading lists while browsing the Papers Database. In the current stage, this can only be done by retrieving the Record Identification Number of each article and adding it manually to the Reading List Entries.
   The approach involves setting up a system similar to the "Shopping Carts" or "Shopping Baskets" widely used in Electronic Commerce websites (like Amazon and many others). This method  has the main advantage of being very intuitive. The Academic Staff would enter a special, password protected area of the Database, define a name for their reading list and then create its content by selecting the desired articles from the main papers database. A simple click on a checkbox next to the desired article would be enough. After searching and browsing the database, the individual would only need to proceed to "Check Out". In this stage, a new record is added to the Reading Lists Database which can be retrieved by the students.
   The set up of the "Shopping Cart" functionality proved too difficult at this stage, and this project is only meant to be a Pilot and not a fully functional version. While the Library is actually developing a very interesting and far reaching project, , the purpose of this exercise is to show a simpler and functional approach to the decentralized interaction between Academic Staff (mainly creating the Reading Lists), the students (consulting the databases) and the Library Staff (which would be in charge of the administration of the Databases structure and content and the  Web Site).
   One can easily think about the whole  library catalogue replacing this humble working papers database, and applying the concept developed here on a massive scale, with offprints replaced by PDF files when possible and full references given for books or non-electronic sources.