Presentation on theme: "Interdisciplinarity and the Classification of Scholarly Documents by Phenomena, Theories, and Methods Rick SZOSTAK University of Alberta, Canada European."— Presentation transcript:
Interdisciplinarity and the Classification of Scholarly Documents by Phenomena, Theories, and Methods Rick SZOSTAK University of Alberta, Canada European University Institute, Firenze, Italy Presentation to ISKO-Italy, Milan, June, 2007
Main Hypothesis The feasible strategy for information science that would most benefit interdisciplinary scholarship is the classification of scholarly documents in terms of universal classifications of phenomena, theories, and methods. This presentation addresses both why and how to do so, as these are interdependent.
The Desirability of the Classification It must first be established that searching in terms of phenomena, theories, and methods is of critical importance to interdisciplinarians. It must then be shown that existing systems of document classification serve these needs poorly. Finally, the effects of these limitations on interdisciplinary scholarship are addressed.
The Importance of Phenomena, Theories, and Methods Stressed in LIS literature by Weinberg, Palmer, others Stressed as key elements of disciplines by scholars of interdisciplinarity I have argued that useful scholarly concepts flow from classifications of phenomena, theories, methods
The current approach to theory and method Scholars want to know where a theory or method has been applied. Present classification systems rarely classify documents with respect to the theories and methods employed. Even the classification of works about theories can be problematic. Weinberg noted that the limitations of classifications forced scholars to rely on time- consuming and imperfect search strategies.
The current approach to phenomena Present classification systems are primarily discipline-based, and thus the same phenomenon is classified multiple times and often treated differently in different disciplines. Quite different terminology is used in different disciplines. Classification in terms of causal links is especially desirable.
Some Questions it is Hard to Explore in the Present Situation What theories and methods have been applied to the study of a particular set of phenomena in the past? To what set of phenomena has a particular theory or method been applied? (Note that one of the key tasks of scholarship is identifying the range of applicability of theories.) What problems have been encountered in these endeavors? (this question cannot be entertained until the more basic questions are answered.)
The Feasibility of the Classification Why has it not been done before? In part because it was infeasible before recent technological advances. In part because it requires a mixture of deductive and inductive strategies.
Classifying with respect to method applied Broadly speaking, there are only a dozen scholarly methods. These can be disaggregated into a manageable set of more specific tools and techniques. These are often (though not always) referred to by similar terminology in different disciplines.
Classifying with respect to theory applied There is considerable terminological confusion: the same title encompasses quite different types of theory, while quite similar theories go by different names. Even advocates of a particular theory quarrel about what the essence of their theory is. A variety of theory types can be identified along several key dimensions. Individual theories can be placed within the typology, and works classified by both theory and by theory type. This approach solves immediately the problem of different theories operating under the same name.
Classifying with respect to phenomena ILC the most promising venture. My own research is complementary. While much remains to be done, a universal hierarchical classification developed using a mix of deduction and induction is feasible.
Concluding remarks The Leon Manifesto. It is both highly desirable and feasible to classify scholarly documents in terms of a universal classification of phenomena, theories and theory types, and methods. If information scientists develop the sort of classifications suggested above, they will greatly facilitate interdisciplinary scholarship.