Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Katherine Y. Barnes
Compilations of data have become ubiquitous in this information age. Databases make these masses of information tractable. Speaking broadly, a database is any electronic compilation of information in machinereadable format. Two features characterize databases: the ability to query and summarize the data and the ability to link data within the database and across databases in a variety of ways. Because databases allow an individual to obtain relevant information from a huge mass of data, scholars use them for a wide variety of reasons: to look up individuals, find a disease based on particular symptoms, or perform statistical analyses of data. It is this last use of databases that has ...