Thursday, May 14, 2015

Launching the New Website; Standardizing Author Names

We launched, the online interactive version of my 1991 printed edition of "Garrison-Morton", at the meeting of Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences ( held in New Haven, Connecticut on April 29-30, 2015. Having a deadline for a functioning version of the site was a helpful, and perhaps a necessary incentive for making a presentable version available by a specific date.

Since then, as is my habit, I continue to read, correct, revised, and expand the entries. In the process I am continually reminded of differences between the mechanics of editing the site online compared to editing the manuscript for the printed book roughly 25 years ago. These differences are among the topics I intend to explore in this blog.

One of the issues that I did not have time to work on before we launched the site was standardizing author names. Users of the book or the new database may know that some authors have multiple entries in the database, reflecting the significance of different books or papers in different subject areas. When I edited the manuscript for the fifth edition I was working with a series of about ten Microsoft Word files, as the program could not then handle a manuscript that long in one file. I recall carrying these files around on the clunky slow laptop I used at the time, and carefully backing up the files on a series of floppy diskettes after making changes or additions to the manuscript. Under those circumstances it was possible to enter in different versions of the same author name, without being readily able to check to see if the entered version conformed to the way the name had been previously recorded for other entries. Because of the way the new database is organized all the author names appear alphabetically, making duplicated entries, or misspelled names relatively easy to spot. Then it is a matter of deleting the duplicated name entries, and assigning the correct author name to all relevant entries in the database.

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