Although throughout the model the data was atomized into well defined data elements, free text remarks will always be necessary to accommodate special cases. Such comment fields bear the risk that an ill-designed user interface may encourage the user of the database to place data there rather than in the appropriate fields, thus making search and sorting processes difficult and in fact obscuring information from later users of the database. Inclusion of comment fields for a particular data area should therefore be carefully evaluated and - wherever possible - be avoided.

Comments can be linked to any entity in the model by means of a comment list (associative entity). The IOPI data definitions (Bisby 1994) prescribe comments for taxa and for geographic data in the IOPI checklist. This is implemented here by allowing comments on names, potential taxa and global distribution summaries.

The structure defined by the data definition restricts comments to short remarks, which can (and should) be accompanied by a reference citation. This is a structure which has successfully been used in the ILDIS database project (Bisby, pers. comm.). The model includes the structure, however, a free text field was added to overcome the limitations. Again, it is up to the actual implementation to impose restrictions.

Diagram 18: Comments, datastructure

Diagram 19: Comments in the IOPI Checklist

Next chapter; Contents of this article; Complete entity list; References cited; Author information. Last updated: June 23, 1995