Subject database

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Subject databases are subject-specific databases that provide subject information on classic documentation systems. In the conventional sense, specialist databases can be divided into those that contain documents or facts ( full-text database or knowledge database ) and those that refer to documents ( bibliography , literature database ).


Subject databases differ according to

Type of information stored

  • Bibliographic database (synonym: reference database, literature database, bibliography database , bibliography) contains content designations such as title, author or publisher, possibly an abstract of mostly scientific publications (literature and patent information). General databases such as library information systems ( OPAC ) also use bibliographic databases.
    • General bibliography
    • Specialized bibliography  : evidence of works on one or more special topics or subject areas
    • National  bibliography: References to works about a country or a specific language area that have been published in a country or in a specific language
    • Regional bibliography  : publications from or about a specific region
      • Newspaper, magazine bibliography: an organized directory of newspapers and magazines
      • Directory of dissertations: evidence of dissertations
      • Book trade directory: only available in book trade; Books, magazine series, cards, CD-ROMs, DVDs, floppy disks, video cassettes, calendars, sheet music
  • Fact database contains statistical and numerical data (time series, stock figures), information with properties of chemical or physical units, operational data, market information, economic and scientific information
    • Referral database contains references to company profiles, product descriptions, research institutions, etc. Ä.
      • Address and company directory contains evidence of companies or institutions or groups of people and their contact addresses
  • Full-text database contains complete and indexed publications
    • Article database offers articles from journals and journal-type series (with commemorative publications, conference and congress reports) as well as book chapters; Interdisciplinary or subject-related, referencing or as a full text database possible.
  • Image database
  • Sound database
  • Multimedia database contains common forms of media (images, graphics, audio, video)
  • Link database
  • Citation database
  • Numerical database
  • Software database
  • Biographical database provides biographical data or descriptions of people's lives

Type of medium

Type of data model used


  • public database
    • Nationwide freely accessible database (regulated by certain contracts)
  • non-public database
    • Official database (e.g. intelligence information system (NADIS))
    • University network databases
  • Free database
  • Database for a fee
  • Former database


  • Open content databases

Content subject

  • Film database
  • Legal database
  • Economic database

Geographical reference

  • Database from Japan (e.g. with references to Japanese literature)
  • Database from Germany (e.g. with references to Japanese literature)


  • Database in English
  • Database in German
  • Database in Russian


Database providers and database producers make their specialist databases available for partially chargeable research. Databases can be accessed via an online service ( host , database producer itself) or offline via portable data carriers (e.g. CD-ROM) , depending on the offer . Virtual specialist libraries combine the information from their specialist databases under the vascoda portal .

The research in databases is divided into

  • Data retrieval (also: fact retrieval, search for structured data) of a search in completed sets with clearly defined search queries, only precisely applicable answers, a language with special syntax and semantics (Data Retrieval Language, DRL)
  • Information retrieval (search for unstructured data) of a search in larger, possibly growing amounts of data, with vague search queries, partially correct answers and a natural language .

The Gale Directory of Databases lists databases for 2005 worldwide:

  • Online databases 9489
  • CD-ROM 3920
  • DVD 113
  • Disk 420
  • Magnetic tape 220
  • Handheld 21
  • Batch Access 95
  • Database producers 3416
  • Database providers 2927


Triggered by the Sputnik shock in 1957 , Western governments supported the creation of large bibliographic databases in which scientific publications were stored in electronic catalogs in order to facilitate effective access to relevant literature and to avoid duplication of research. After the radio signals from the satellite had been successfully decoded, it turned out that the code had been public and accessible in specialist journals for a long time without the specialist journal being found. Due to the explosively growing number of scientific and technical publications, it became more and more difficult to get an overview of current research and its sub-areas. Document-oriented databases have been in commercial use since the early 1970s . In 1972 , the database provider Dialog introduced the DIALOG Information Retrieval Service, the world's first commercial offer with access to an online database, and in 1997 (the WWW was established in 1989 ) it implemented two hypertext-based web accesses. More and more databases came onto the market that were not only research-oriented, but also referenced publications from other areas such as economics, law and social sciences or even daily newspapers and popular magazines. Since more and more publications were being digitized for printing and the costs for computer capacity and data storage were falling steadily, full-text databases were created since the 1970s .

Examples of databases: PubMed , RSWB , Medical Database , VINITI , PubSCIENCE (discontinued)

See also


  • Eleonore Poetzsch: Information Retrieval - Introduction to Basics and Methods , E. Poetzsch Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-938945-01-X
  • Matthias Kraft: Legal online databases: a shopping aid , 1st edition, Kraft-Verlag, Münster, 2005, ISBN 3-9810225-0-5

Web links

Link lists to databases

Link lists to databases, in English

free databases

Database search engines

Agent software, search agents

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gale Directory of Online, Portable, and Internet Databases ( English ) Dialog. Archived from the original on March 14, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2019.