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Don Burleson Blog 









What makes an expert?

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

I've received e-mail from all sorts of people to object to the superlatives that I use to describe Oracle DBA's with significant real-world experience:

  • Oracle Professional - "Mr. Don Burleson, you talk rubbish. I have a very basic high school education but left pretty quickly to play around with computers and taught myself. . . .This is a craft, so I'll be judged by the quality of my work and not pieces of unrelated paper." Doug Burns, Scotland

  • Oracle Expert - Many claim that the term "expert" has special connotations, and experience, by itself, should not connote the title of expert.  Some professionals exploit the term and even include the the word "expert" in the title in their books, such as "Expert Oracle, Signature Edition", as authored by "one of the world's foremost Oracle experts, Thomas Kyte".

So, are the terms "expert" and "professional" applicable to people who use database management systems?

I've always associated the words "expert" and "experience" because they are, in-fact, closely related words, describing a person who has significant experience in their profession:

Expert (Ex*pert") (?), a. - [F. expert, L. expertus, p. p. of experiri to try. See Experience.]

Based on the definition, I tend to think of "expertise" as someone with loads of real-world experience, and not someone with lab or research experience.  Let's take a closer look.

Oracle Experts

Chris Lawson, author of the bestselling "Art and Science of Oracle Performance Tuning" book, gives his advice for establishing credibility in the Oracle community:

Probably the easiest way to enhance your credibility is to write articles for technical journals. Besides the local user groups, they are numerous technical journals that are happy to review submissions-even from unknown writers.

Many popular Oracle authors have used this strategy. For instance, Don Burleson advertises that he has penned over 100 articles! In contrast, why would a publisher listen seriously to someone who has not bothered to publish even a single technical article?

In the USA being "legally" declared an Expert is a matter of law.  Many of my compatriots have been evaluated and declared to be an Oracle Expert by the U.S. court systems, as are many other scientists who testify in computer-related disputes. 

In the course of performing Oracle forensic consulting, both parties hire database experts and scientists to evaluate their-side of a technical issue, and provide "expert" opinions.  All expert witnesses are evaluated by the court and the judge determines if their academic, research and experiential background warrants declaring them an "Oracle Expert".

My company provides database "expert witness" services for the U.S. courts, and the act of being accepted as an expert by the courts is used in some circles to denote expertise.  When publishing, these authors have a right to call themselves "Oracle Experts" as a matter of law, having met their burden of proving their expertise to the satisfaction of a court.

The SearchOracle web site also has a section titled "Ask the Experts" where the web site chooses and confers the title of "Oracle expert" to selected Oracle professionals.




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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

Verify experience! Anyone considering using the services of an Oracle support expert should independently investigate their credentials and experience, and not rely on advertisements and self-proclaimed expertise. All legitimate Oracle experts publish their Oracle qualifications.

Errata?  Oracle technology is changing and we strive to update our BC Oracle support information.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback.  Just  e-mail:  

and include the URL for the page.


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