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Knowledge organization systems as enablers to the conduct of science

Patrick Lambe (Straits Knowledge, Singapore)

The sophistication of knowledge organization systems (KOS) has evolved rapidly over the past thirty years, largely driven by information technology innovations. Two key assumptions have been a) that KOS-work is the preserve of information professionals acting as skilled intermediaries, and b) that it is largely focused on enabling the finding and discovery of information. This paper challenges both assumptions with reference to the conduct of science in the 21st century, by describing the ways in which access to KOS skills and tools is already broadening beyond information professionals to scientists, and by describing how knowledge organization systems enable sense-making of trends within science and new knowledge creation, beyond simple access and discovery roles. It closes with remarks on the implications for information professionals engaged in KOS-related work.

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Knowledge organization systems and their consequences for information retrieval

Traditionally, research on knowledge organization systems (KOS) and information retrieval discussed the relative advantages or disadvantages of using controlled vocabularies versus free-text or intellectual indexing versus automatic indexing methods for indexing and search. Experiments and case studies variously showed the superiority of either approach without reaching a final conclusion on this seemingly basic question. As full-text indexing has become more possible and now prevalent, the discussion of the relative merits of KOS – not only as substitute but in combination with full-text – was not settled but continued with new challenges. With the advent of the Semantic Web, KOS (now appearing as ontologies) became important tools in new information retrieval applications and were pushed once again to the research forefront. With different disciplines working in the field, the terminology around KOS has become more and more ambiguous up to the point that tracing research in the literature is difficult – ironically something that traditional KOS have always tried to mitigate. This paper summarizes recent discussions of the impact of KOS on information retrieval and attempts to show and unify different research strands from library science research on subject indexing, information retrieval and the Semantic Web. Whereas earlier impact studies on retrieval resulted in clearly measurable outcomes (for example changes in precision / recall), recent use of KOS in Semantic Web applications or other information systems has switched from pure search scenarios to exploration (browse) and contextualization, for which clear (and calculable) evaluation or quality standards and benchmarks do not exist.

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Semantic interoperability in an international comprehensive knowledge organization system (KOS)

In this paper, the functional and relational characteristics and requirements for various types of semantic interoperability in a comprehensive international knowledge organisation system are discussed with regard to an analysis of the underlying retrieval paradigms. Furthermore, this paper analyses the potential benefits and perspectives of the selective transfer of modelling strategies from the field of semantic technologies for the refinement of relational structures of inter-system and inter-concept relations as a requirement for expressive and functional indexing languages supporting advanced types of semantic interoperability.

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Knowledge Organization System Services

The presentation focused on NKOS : Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services. This is an informal network for enabling knowledge organization systems (KOS), such as classification systems, thesauri, gazetteers, and ontologies, as
networked interactive information services to support the description
and retrieval of diverse information resources through the Internet. In addition, there was talk about the possibility of KOS Registries.

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