A database represents a collection of data in an organized matter. A database organizes this data from one or more users typically in digital form. There are many types of databases which respect a certain model of implementation and some of them are available for online use, for example: bibliographic databases, document-text databases, statistical databases and the list can go on.
What is an online database?
An online database is a database that can be accessed via a network connection, Internet connection or VPN. An online database differs from a local database, which is held in an individual computer or an attached storage device such as a CD, external HDD or flash drive.
The online databases are delivered primary via a web browser, purchased often by a monthly fee subscription, and embed common collaboration features such as sharing, email notifications, file sharing and so on.
Managing online databases
Online databases and local databases are managed by using a database management system, which allows the storage of database contents, creation of data, maintaining the data and searching the data by using queries.
A database management system is a collection of computer programs that control the creation, use and maintenance of a database. The database management system allows the control of the development of a database design and makes life easy for database administrators and other kind of database specialists. Basically a database management system is a software that helps the use of integrated collection of data records by allowing several user applications to easily access the same database, either in the same time or individually. Several database models may be used for the management process such as the relational model, and in case of online databases the network model. In large systems a database management program allows users and other software (such as Search engines for example) to store and retrieve the data from a database in a structured way. A database management system provides a way to interact with databases by using a query language (ex: SQL language) and it provides facilities for controlling the access of data, enforcing the integrity of the data, managing concurrency and restoring broken databases from backups, and provides the ability to logically present database information to users.
There are many online database management systems out there already built that can help you with your work, but sometimes it is hard to find the one that suits you best. Therefore many researchers prefer to use their own system, built by themselves or by database professionals to satisfy their specific needs. Most researchers prefer this approach because many already build DBMS do not offer what they really need or they offer extra tools that they don’t need, making these systems not justifying their costs as the costs of a DBMS can go insanely expensive depending on the complexity of the program and its purpose.
Now that we know a little about online databases and what to use to manage them the next question is what databases are available for online use? The answer to this questions is simple but in the same time complicated. There is a huge amount of data that can be accessed via the internet. There are hundreds of databases all coming from different fields of expertise. There are many online list (an online database of databases if you like) that contain all these online databases. Some of them can be accessed for free, some of them require a subscription. Bellow there are just a few examples (courtesy of wikipedia.org – just click the links to see the lists):
List of online databases – Contains a list of almost all databases that can be accessed via the internet.
List of digital library projects – Contains a list of online databases that contain digital library projects.
List of online encyclopedias – All the online databases that server for encyclopedias.
List of educational video websites – A complete list of online databases containing educational video websites.
List of neuroscience databases – An example of a list that contains data from a specific field of activity.
This list of lists can go on for ever. A simple google search for “online databases” can show millions of results and that is correct because there are millions of them. Nowadays all we need is out there, and by out there I mean online, thanks to modern technology evolution and the ingenious idea of creating digital databases and making them available online. Information is power so why not make the most of it?