The core of the PASE web publication is a ‘master database’, which identifies Persons who are recorded or referred to the Sources researched. The assertions that Sources make about the Persons are termed ‘factoids’, and they include a variety of personal information, including offices, kin-relationships, and so on, and Events in which they participated in some way. No factoids (including Events) appear unless they are linked both to Persons and to Sources. This principle is rigorously applied so that users are in a position to follow the Person-to-Source ‘trail’, and to make their own reference to the relevant Source at any stage.
As a kind of shorthand, the project refers to each assertion by a source about one or more persons as a ‘factoid’. Information about persons was recorded in the database with as little interpretation as reasonably possible. Sets of factoids were searched, analysed and displayed, so that researchers could draw their own interpretative conclusions, or follow the references back to the sources from which the factoids were derived. The set of factoids thus represents a systematic and structured view of what have been regarded as key types of personal information:
The project was developed using two types of database. The research team members used ‘data collection’ databases (DCDs), in which they recorded information taken from the sources. For charters, where information is arranged in a particular way, the design of the database was tailored to correspond to that arrangement, in order to make the data collection as efficient as possible.
The data from these data collection databases was then loaded into the ‘master database’ (MDB) which lies at the heart of PASE as published on the internet. The overall information structure of the project is determined by three factors:
A data structure diagram showing the structure of the MDB is available (see pdf file).
The fundamental elements of structure in the MDB are: Sources; Persons; Factoids. The factoids may be one-dimensional, referring only to a single person - e.g. an occupation or title; or multi-dimensional, linking a person to one or more other people, e.g. kinship. One special type of factoid, Event, usually but not always multi-dimensional, has been used primarily to record the roles of those persons involved in the event - e.g. ‘agent’, ‘recipient’, ‘witness’. The structuring of the Event category has been overhauled during the course of the PASE 2 project to improve searchability.
The master database (MDB) was founded on certain principles of organisation and access: