Online from: 1945
Subject Area: Library and Information Studies
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|Title:||Assessing information taxonomies using epistemology and the sociology of science|
|Author(s):||Fran Alexander, (Information and Archives, BBC, London, UK)|
|Citation:||Fran Alexander, (2012) "Assessing information taxonomies using epistemology and the sociology of science", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 68 Iss: 5, pp.725 - 743|
|Keywords:||Classification, Epistemology, Information modelling, Information research, Information science, Objectivity, Sociology of science, Subjectivity, Taxonomies|
|Article type:||Literature review|
|DOI:||10.1108/00220411211256058 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Acknowledgements:||The author would like to acknowledge Vanda Broughton, Department of Information Studies, University College London.|
Purpose – This paper aims to summarise a literature review undertaken to determine whether or not information taxonomy work, as a specific activity within the broader field of knowledge organisation system construction, can usefully be compared to a process of scientific enquiry. The theories of objectivity and subjectivity proposed by Helen Longino are considered, to determine their relevance to taxonomists and classification theorists.
Design/methodology/approach – The review assesses and synthesises relevant best practice and theoretical literature from information science, sociology of science, and related disciplines, including linguistics, epistemology, and psychology.
Findings – Although requirements of objectivity in science and in taxonomy work differ significantly, the achievement of consensus within communities is similar. This warrants development of Longino's theories for application to taxonomy work.
Research limitations/implications – The potentially relevant literature represents too vast and diverse a body of scholarship for comprehensive review of every area, so a synthetic interdisciplinary approach has been taken, highlighting aspects worthy of further investigation.
Practical implications – Subjectivity and objectivity are deemed significant for information taxonomists, especially regarding usability and accessibility of systems, while the sociology of science provides frameworks that could be adapted to offer methods of assessing the subjectivity and objectivity of taxonomies. This suggests much potential for developing Longino's theories into a framework or set of heuristics for taxonomy practitioners.
Originality/value – Current literature on taxonomy work, as distinct from classification, categorisation, and similar topics within the broader knowledge organisation field, is scant, and academic and interdisciplinary approaches scarce. Relating the sociology of science to information taxonomy work is a novel approach. By exposing this relationship, a starting point is provided for researchers who wish to develop understanding of these fields and theoretical understanding of taxonomies and professional best practice is enhanced.
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