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KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Knowledge Organisation Systems as Enablers to the Conduct of Science Patrick Lambe
2 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Knowledge Organisation & Science “To organise knowledge is to gather together what we know into a comprehensive organised structure, to show its parts and their relationships. This is the work of scholars and encyclopaedists. It is not the role of the information profession. Our tasks are to make knowledge (whether organised or unorganised) available to those who seek it, to store it in an accessible way, and to provide tools and procedures that make it easier for people to find what they seek in those stores.” ‘On Knowledge Organisation’ 2008
3 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Two Assumptions 1.Separation between scholars and information professionals 2.Knowledge organisation mainly supports search and discovery
4 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Pursuing Science Three essentials for the conduct of science: Consistent ways of describing science Conspectus across scientific domains Continuity between science memory, science activity, and new knowledge creation “ The ability to achieve innovation in a competitive global information society hinges on the capability to swiftly and reliably find, understand, share, and apply complex information from widely distributed sources for discovery, progress, and productivity. ” (Interagency Working Group on Digital Data, 2009).
5 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 KOS & Conduct of Science KOS: Standardises language Structure shows connections and relationships Enables sensemaking
6 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Knowledge Organisation in Science Linnaeus Rules for lexical stabilization enabled coordination Meaningful structure prefigured evolutionary theory Mendeleev Sensemaking structure - periodic table prompted hypotheses about gaps and relationships between elements, supported new discoveries
7 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Orders of Complexity in KOS 1. Controlled vocabularies 2. Taxonomies 3. Ontologies 4. Mechanisms for collecting emerging language Eg. folksonomies, topic maps
8 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Five Principles 1.The complexity of a KOS needs to match the complexity of the domain it attempts to describe, and the complexity of the coordination, connection and sensemaking work it needs to support. 2.When the complexity of the KOS exceeds human cognitive capabilities, designed interfaces using taxonomies are necessary to serve the working needs of users in their own normal working contexts. 3.It is not sufficient to use semantic technology to describe science activity. This does not get at all the functions of a KOS. Linnaeus and Mendeleev had the impact they had, because they engaged in a work of design, not simply description. 4.A KOS that effectively supports the conduct of science must be able to identify, observe and represent informal social activity and relationships beyond the boundaries of traditional formal outputs and records of science activity 5.A KOS that effectively supports the conduct of science must be able to observe and connect formal and informal activity streams, using designed taxonomy structures and visualization tools as ‘human-oriented middleware’ between emerging new language and concept usage, and existing ontologies.
9 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Case Study: STAR METRICS Linking researcher profiles with products of their research and administrative records data on science funding requires a KOS-like data infrastructure Nature March 2010
10 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Implications KOS innovation driven by information technology Marginal/ passive roles, IT threatens to replace our logistics function Suddenly popular - knowledge organisation problems need our skill sets Marginal again - organisations have absorbed what they need and moved on
11 KOS and the Conduct of Science© Straits Knowledge 2011 Any Questions?
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