Talks and Poster Presentations (with Proceedings-Entry):
"Design and Implementation of a Publication Database for the Vienna University of Technology";
Talk: VIEWDET 2003,
- 11-28-2003; in: "Proceedings of the Vienna International Conference on eLearning, eMedicine and eSupport (VIEWDET 2003)",
E. Riedling (ed.);
Institut für Industrielle Elektronik und Materialwissenschaften,
The quality of scientific work is generally measured by the resulting published output. However, a simple count of the publications of researchers or institutes is hardly an accurate representation due to the wide range of what may be considered a scientific publication, and because a simple publication count supplied by the researchers often cannot be fully verified. There are official databases of recognized publications for some areas but not for all, notably Electrical Engineering. With this in mind, the author has devised a Publication Database, first for the internal use of the EE faculty of the Vienna University of Technology. Since the software met the expectations of the University authorities, it has been implemented University-wide in mid-2002, and since then provides all publication-related evaluation data of the University.
The design of a system like the Publication Database has to take into account two possibly conflicting requirements. Information in the database has to be as complete and detailed as possible to allow for all conceivable queries which may not only result in a simple count of publications but may also take also the quality of the publications (or, easier to maintain, of the media where the publications appeared) into account. On the other hand, entries into the database are often made by persons not familiar with the detailed aspects of bibliography (e.g., by an institute secretary). This precludes a "full-blown" bibliographic system and demands a flexible approach where only the fields essential for identifying and verifying a publication need filling in, while optional fields are available for additional information such as abstracts or a link to an electronic version of the publication.
In general, instruments that only serve the purpose to collect statistical data are not well accepted. In order to improve the acceptance of the Publication Database, it has to provide sufficient "additional value" to its users. This entails that, e.g., everybody must be able to extract their own publication lists or have them created dynamically for use on a website, and that external users can freely search for information in the database. In fact, the Publication Database must serve as a knowledge base as well.
The latter requirements, and the fact that a variety of hardware and software platforms are in use at a university, demand that the Publication Database be designed as a Web application. Since university members also tend to use a variety of browsers, including some "exotic" species, browser-independent programming is mandatory.
The approach chosen for the Publication Database of the TU Wien uses a LAMP (Linux - Apache - MySQL - PHP) structure. There are three major access points to the Database: (a) An authenticated access for data entry and maintenance; (b) an interactive public interface that allows searching for publications and/or creating tailored publication lists of persons, groups, or institutes; and (c) a function that dynamically creates pages with publication lists in a custom design for inclusion on other websites. A variety of query functions permits restricting a search to entries meeting certain conditions. Two different statistics functions provide evaluation data, (a) by the "official" algorithm, which is more or less a simple count of publications, and (b) with a proprietary function that also accounts for the quality of the publication media and the sizes of the publications.
The presentation will not only describe the design of the Publication Database in more detail but will also give some information on technical and organisational problems encountered during its implementation at the University, particularly aspects of how to improve user acceptance.
Online library catalogue of the TU Vienna:
Electronic version of the publication:
Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.