Types of information systems

By the term ‘information system’ people usually understand only databases and they use these both terms as synonyms, but actually it includes lot wider range of data storage and usage. Nowadays information systems are widely used, so there is a quite a big chance you will have to deal with them sooner or later. If so, it is important to know what exactly they are. So let’s take a closer look at many types of information systems and usage of them.

Before computers became a part of everyday life, there was quite simple division of information systems. Basically that was divided into four sections or levels – transaction processing systems, management information systems, decision support systems and executive information systems. Usually these systems were displayed as a pyramid, because they were ordered by hierarchy. Nowadays this model doesn’t work anymore, because information systems has developed dramatically and there are many new types of information systems, that are being used lot more widely than those mentioned above.

One of the most popular and widely used information systems is web search engines. Those are computerized search systems used for information searching in the internet. Nowadays search engines have many subtypes itself, but all have the same working principles – user enters keywords and search criteria and system offer many results. These results are found by special algorithm. Most popular search engine that most of us have used many times is Google, but there are also many others.

Most of the entrepreneurs probably have used such information system us data warehouse. That is system which is used for data storage and analyses. They are widely used to collect all kind of data and later compare them to previous periods. They can be either manual or computerized, but nowadays computerized versions are lot more popular.

Something similar is resource planning system. These types of systems also are used by entrepreneurs. This system consists of all kind of data from enterprise activities such as product planning, resources, manufacturing, sales, marketing etc. Also these systems are used to optimize enterprise activities and nowadays they usually are fully computerized.

Geographic information systems are used to storage all kind of geographical data. This is very wide type of information systems, because it has many subtypes and ways of usage. All kind of geographical aspects can be explored and recorded and also they can be used for many reasons, so this type of information systems cannot me definite so easily.

There are also lots of other modern and widely used types of information systems such as global information systems, enterprise automation systems, personal information systems etc. Broadly speaking information system is any organized system of information, not only digital data storage.

Manual databases

Nowadays people are more familiar with electronic databases – computerized file systems which consists of digital records – but before computers became widely popular, only manual data bases were used. Also nowadays they are being used in some institutions, so it is useful to know what they are and how to use them.

Actually the principle of manual database is the same as electronic database – it’s a file system that consists of many records. The main difference is that it is not computerized, so all the records and database itself are tangible. Practically manual databases are file boxes full or paper records and folders. Manual databases are still used in some smaller libraries and also in places where client register is needed for example hospitals.

The records in manual database can be ordered in many ways. Most popular ways of organization are alphabetically, chronologically and numerically. The main purpose of the organization of manual database is to make all the order transparent, so the way of organization depends on the purpose of the database. Very large databases for example library databases also are organized by sections of themes and files in each section is organized by methods mentioned above.

So when it comes to usage of manual database, first you need to understand the organization of it. If you have understood that, all the following work is easy. For example, if records are organized alphabetically by authors, start searching from the letter of authors’ surname. Of course, usage of manual database is more complicated than usage of electronic database, because, you need to go through records by yourself.

Also the maintenance of manual databases is a lot more complicated. Manual databases don’t update automatically, so once in a while the cleaning of records is needed. All the unnecessary records have to be thrown out. If the database consists of huge amount of files, there can be a situation when database consists of useless files. That can encumber searching of records. Of course, manual databases needs a lot more space as well.

As you can see, manual databases are less convenient in many ways, so you might wonder why they still exist at all. That is because it takes a lot of time, work and money to computerize all the file system. For example, to computerize file system of hospitals, there is united system in whole country needed and that means millions of records must be digitalized. However lot of countries has done that and many are planning to do that.

So the era of manual databases is almost over and electronic databases are taking over, but it is good to know how to use them anyway. You never know, when that can turn out useful.

Efficient literature search in bibliographic databases

It is very common situation, when people are trying to search for something on their topic in bibliographic database, but can’t find anything useful; however there is plenty on literature available. The issue is that many people think they know how to do efficient literature search in bibliographic databases, because they are successfully using different web search engines every day, but bibliographic data bases is not that easy. There are many search tricks only few are aware of.

Many people use bibliographic databases just like they use Google – type some keywords and look if there is something useful available. If there is nothing on specific topic, they stop searching on that database. At the same time, if they ask for a help of a librarian, it turns out there is some very useful literature. That is because librarians know how to search efficiently.

Databases are lot more complex than Google or other web search tools, so you need to train to use them. Librarians have experience in this, that’s why they are so good at it. When they can’t find something at first, they try different approach, for example another key words, different theme sections etc. But don’t worry if you don’t have this experience, because there are some tricks that van be used any time.

First you need to define subject you are looking for. You need to understand that every subject can have different perspectives and ramifications. Try to look at your topic very extensively and find the right approach. After you have realized what exactly you need, write down all the possible keywords that describes your topic. Right keywords the key of success in searching, so take some time for that.

Another important thing is to search for literature in as many databases as possible. Don’t focus on only one database, even if you think it’s the best one. There might be some good literature on your topic also in some smaller and less popular databases. This advice is especially useful if you need some literature on very narrow niche topic.

Sometimes you will have to do some really long and serious research, so better record all your activities. Write down what keywords you have already used in each database and also you might write down, in which databases and by which keywords search was successful. This will let you make sure you are not doing the same thing several times and also you will know which keywords work the best on your topic.

If you have found some useful articles, use them for further search. For example, look for the same authors’ works or use the title of the document or book for search. Also you can choose just some sections and continue searching with them. This is very good method and usually it leads useful results.

You should use this search plan every time you are looking for some literature in databases and you will be surprised about the results. By the time you will be able to search as efficient as any librarian.

Electronic bibliographic databases

Many of us have used digital bibliographic databases. Basic usage of them seems very simple – just type some keywords and you can find whatever you want, however you will get a lot better results if you will know what exactly you should type in. To get a better understanding of using the digital bibliographic databases, everyone should know what these databases actually are and how they work.

To understand the principles of digital databases, first think of the library card files that were quite a popular just few years ago. In those card files was kept book index cards. Every book in the library has this index card, which consists of information about the book (author, year, publisher, short description etc.), so you can imagine the enormous count of paper files kept in libraries. To find the book needed the reader first had to find the right section of the theme and then look for the specific book by its title or author. Sounds complicated, but it is actually the same principle which is used in digital bibliographic databases.

Digital databases consist of digital records of the books and other documents instead of the paper cards, but these records perform the same functions. The usage of the digital database is lot easier. Reader just needs to type some keywords or specific title or author and he will get all the results available. In case keywords are not specific enough, there is a huge chance user will get a lot of results that are not useful, so it is very important to choose the right keywords.

Digital databases usually hold the records only for electronic documents such as researches or journals, but nowadays also traditionally libraries have their own databases. The principles of usage is the same, the only difference is that, after finding a document or any other piece of literature, reader has to find it in a library, not receive in electronic format.

So any bibliographic database holds files about the literature needed, not the piece of the literature itself. Of course, by using the digital database, reader sometimes can get the full document if it’s in electronic format, but it is not saved in the same database.

Any digital bibliographic database is limited. Just like the traditional bibliographic file doesn’t hold index cards of the books that are not in the library, also digital database doesn’t hold records of any literature that is not in the specific library. Although, some digital databases are connected to other, lager libraries, so the reader would know where to find the literature that he needs. In some cases these libraries or databases can even transfer some documents to each other, so the reader could get whatever he needs.

So remember that electronic databases work almost the same as tradition library files. That means searching of any file will be a lot easier if you will use the keywords that are mentioned in file record. Also it is useful to first select the specific section before searching to narrow the amount of results, just like with bibliographic files.