Constructing Relational Databases to Study Life Histories on Your PC or Mac

Item Type Journal paper

In this article, the author presents a strategy for designing relational databases with the program FileMaker Pro (FileMaker) to study the histories of individuals and organizations. The approach facilitates efficiency in inputting data and flexibility for constructing statistical analyses from the raw data. The key feature of the strategy is to define the basic unit of observation in the database in terms of an agent, an event, and a date. Given that programs such as FileMaker can easily sort data by agent and date, once one structures the data correctly, he or she can construct well-ordered event histories for agents, even if the researcher enters the data in an unordered fashion. By using events that happened to an agent at a particular time as the basic unit of observation, one maintains maximum flexibility to do statistical analysis that aggregates basic data in different ways. This article illustrates the power of the approach by outlining ways to analyze changes in geographic distances between two events marking the life histories of chemists.

Authors Murmann, Johann P.
Journal or Publication Title Historical Methods
Language English
Subjects business studies
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 8 August 2010
Publisher Taylor & Francis Group
Volume 143
Number 3
Page Range 109-123
Number of Pages 14
Publisher DOI 10.1080/01615440.2010.496442
Official URL
Contact Email Address
Depositing User Michele K├Âlbener
Date Deposited 17 Oct 2018 13:33
Last Modified 22 Oct 2018 09:32


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Murmann, Johann P. (2010) Constructing Relational Databases to Study Life Histories on Your PC or Mac. Historical Methods, 143 (3). 109-123.

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