The Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia (CGIE) is a large grant-funded institute in Tehran-Iran, producing high-quality reference books and media for researching scholars and the general public. One of their projects is to produce the Great Islamic Encyclopedia. This mammoth task was started in 1985 and is expected to continue well into the next generation. To date, 9 volumes have been printed covering the first two letters of the 32 Farsi (Persian) alphabet. The work is also being translated into Arabic, English and French.
Some of the steps taken to produce one entry in the encyclopedia are as follows:
Encyclopedia Entry selection
Research for source material
Review, summary and validation of source material
Preparation of the first draft article
Reference and cross-reference checks
Preparation of the second draft
Chief editor review
Preparation of the final article
Considerations for an Encyclopedia Entries Database
An Entry Subject Title for the encyclopedia is selected by a panel of experts. Space and time considerations together with the relative importance of an article may dictate that a selected entry is subsequently omitted or even re-instated if conditions change. This means any database must contain a history of each entry title, showing when it was selected, deleted, reinstated, relocated or moved to the supplement, and when each of these decisions were verified.
To distinguish between some entries with equal spelling in complex right-to-left script, it is necessary to show the phonetic spelling of the entry title. The phonetic sound is also useful when the entry title is transliterated into English. Therefore the database also needs to contain two phonetic forms of the entry title.
Upon selection of an entry title, one of 15 departments is assigned to the entry. The department for a multi-subject entry may be changed at a later date and cross-subject entries may be assigned to multiple departments. The database needs to track the department(s) assigned to each entry.
Since the entries of an encyclopedia are cross-referenced, an important function of an entries database is to show all the entries that any entry references. For example, entry [A] contains a reference to entries B, C and D. Further, since entries may be removed from the encyclopedia, it is also important to show any entries referencing a particular entry. For example, entry [A] is referenced by entries X, Y and Z.
Since many entries relate to famous individuals from history, the Entries Database must show the year of birth and death for each individual in order to distinguish between similar names.
Other database fields, including those for an audit trail were as follows:
Relative importance of the entry
Number of words required
Date and time each record was created, and by whom
Date and time each record was checked, and by whom
Date and time each record was last changed
Entry sequence number
Library reference details for each source relating to the entry
Details of which source material were collected, summarized and referenced
A symbol to show the last decision made about the entry
|Click on this thumbnail image to see screen-shot 1 of the data entry form.|
|Click on this thumbnail image to see screen-shot 2 of the data entry form.|
This MS Access 2000 and 2002 application program was designed from scratch after a departmental systems analysis. Detailed specifications were produced, then modeled, drafted, tested and the final database was created specifically for CGIE in a total of 3 months.
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Copyright © 2002 Dr. M. A. Meshkot
This page was last updated May 2004