Description or Design: Which is Better for Data Modeling?

by Katheryn T
The article I read about was focusing on the question of how data modeling is characterized. Specifically, is it design or is it description?  In the article, there were hundreds of people surveyed to find out what they thought. Questions spanned from asking what data modelers believe is the scope of the design process to will different data modelers produce different conceptional data models for the same scenario (Simsion, Milton, & Shanks, 2012)? Over the course of the surveys, the researchers discovered that many data modelers view database modeling as design, and other subjects, such as the business problem, were more descriptive than creative. The contributors that felt problems can be handled with design found that businesses don’t really knowing what they want. This was an opportunity for creative and new perspectives to be introduced. Over all, the researchers discovered that challenging business requirements where split between design and descriptive, data modeling was considered a creative activity, and that data modeling does not have one single right answer (Simsion, Milton, & Shanks, 2012).

In class we have been talking about the design of databases and the logical and conceptual models. This article was specifically speaking abut how different people have different approaches to problems and solutions. While we have been talking about going from conceptual to logical, the article stated that this was a descriptive process and that there is more to data modeling with design.

I felt this article was very informative. In the end though, it all came down to opinion. From the people they surveyed, it seems that design is a very important factor in database modeling, but so is descriptive. Some say more than others and vice versa. I think that the best thing for database modeling is to begin with the business rules and be creative when you need too. It would be a bad idea to give the client something they can’t use very well.


Simsion, G., Milton, S. K., & Shanks, G. (2012). Data modeling: Description or design? Information and Management , 151-163.