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Building and using databases for historical research


Course Information

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This completely online, self-taught, course explains how to design, build and maintain databases for historical purposes.

Course Code


Course Dates

9th December 2012 – 31st December 2020

Course Leader

Dr Mark Merry

Course Fee

Course Description

The aim of this training course is to equip you with the skills required to build and utilise a relational database suited to historical research. It is a non-tutor led course that can be completed at your own pace and at a time of your own choosing. Module 1 introduces the tools and techniques used in building a database for historical research. It covers the process of constructing related tables to accommodate your data, as well as introducing a number of practical measures that you can employ to control the quality of the data that you create. The Module also addresses what you need to do to incorporate existing data into a newly-constructed database. Module 2 introduces the numerous ways that database tools can help you ask research questions of your data, ranging from simply finding individual instances of information at the micro level, through to providing complex networking and record linkage overviews. This Module also provides a basic introduction to employing queries highlight statistical patterns in large bodies of data through aggregation tools. The final Module addresses two main aspects of using a database in a historical research project: 'managing' the database and generating research output. The former element introduces various methods for ensuring good practice in terms of file and version control, back up and documentation - all important aspects of making sure the database is useful to your research; whilst the latter looks at ways of extracting data in various formats (including visual) to share with other historians.

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