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.
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.