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Menu-Driven Interfaces Simplify Online Database Searching

In order to stay abreast of important developments in his field, University of Pittsburgh biologist Craig Peebles used to scan the table of contents of some half-dozen different journals each week. Every time he spotted something of interest, he would make a copy of the article and then add it to one of the stacks of papers he kept in his office for ready reference. While online services with easy-to-use, menu-driven interfaces offer researchers one avenue of access into the world of database

Jeff Seiken
In order to stay abreast of important developments in his field, University of Pittsburgh biologist Craig Peebles used to scan the table of contents of some half-dozen different journals each week. Every time he spotted something of interest, he would make a copy of the article and then add it to one of the stacks of papers he kept in his office for ready reference.

While online services with easy-to-use, menu-driven interfaces offer researchers one avenue of access into the world of databases, CD-ROMs present another. CD-ROMs (short for "compact disk--read-only memory") are capable of storing 680 megabytes of laser-readable data, roughly equivalent to the complete text of a 20-volume encyclopedia. Couple this tremendous storage capacity with some menu-driven search software, and you have a terrific tool for data retrieval.

Since the technology's debut in the mid-1980s, about 2,000 databases have been published in the CD-ROM format. To some extent,...

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