references: Meta-Analysis of the Knowledge Organization Domain: Corpus Bibliography

compiled by Richard P. Smiraglia, Joshua A. Henry, Elizabeth Milonas, Christine Marchese and Sergey Zherebchevsky*


1.0 Introduction

The maturity of a knowledge domain is often reflected in the generation of formal reference documentation. Nearly fifty years after the incorporation of the International Society for Knowledge Organization and the introduction of its formal scientific journal Knowledge Organization, a comprehensive encyclopedia of the domain appeared. The online Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization ( is a dynamic, peer-reviewed effort to document the critical concepts underlying the domain of knowledge organization.

Smiraglia (2015a-b) pointed out that the practice of domain analysis for knowledge organization, twenty years after its introduction as a core methodology, had created the largest corpus of theoretical knowledge in the domain analysis of knowledge organization itself. A substantial body of research data therefore is available in the corpus of articles and conference papers reporting on the epistemological and ontological pillars of the science of knowledge organization.

Our team compiled a corpus of twenty-nine formal published analyses of KO together with key formative historical documents (corpus bibliography here). We then analyzed the corpus thematically, bibliographically and using co-word analysis, to extract key concepts and the underlying faceted conceptual infrastructure. Nine facets emerged; these are:

Living things
Concepts, ideas, beliefs, theories
Of being

Forty-four terms occurred in the upper tier of the frequency distribution; these are the core terms for the “base” taxonomy below. That is, these terms describe the domain of KO at a meta-level, and thus constitute not only the core of the domain’s ontology, but also a base on which to build a more extensive, dynamic, taxonomy. The terms appear below aligned with the nine facets.

The taxonomy itself is linked where possible to published definitions in the KO literature as well as to the IEKO. A dynamic project, the taxonomy will grow as emergent research contributes new concepts or generates new facets.

1.1 References

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2015a. Domain Analysis for Knowledge Organization. Chandos Information Professional Series. Oxford: Elsevier/Chandos.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2015b. “Domain Analysis of Domain Analysis for Knowledge Organization: Observations on an Emergent Methodological Cluster.” Knowledge Organization 42: 602-11.

2.0 Base Taxonomy


Facets Terms Notes
Behavior Analysis Denotes the domain analytical work within KO (Smiraglia and Lopez-Huertas 2015, 554) including domain analysis techniques, e.g. Citation Analysis, Co-word Analysis, Author Co-citation Analysis, Network Analysis, Cognitive Work Analysis (Smiraglia 2014a).
Domain analysis – (Hjørland 2017b)
  Construction/structure Construction – “… the construction of sets of terms (concepts) that are used in a specific community—or domain—mapped together with the relationships among them” (Smiraglia 2014a, 44).
Structure – “a general framework or structure within which KOS can be built” (46).
  Discourse Discourse – the cultural action “by which language mediates knowledge” (Smiraglia 2014a, 27).
“Epistemology is the division of philosophy that investigates the nature and origin of knowledge. In philosophy at large, epistemology is central because it embraces the theory of knowledge itself. …The philosophical process engages a discourse in which skeptical challenges to any definition must be rebuked and therein lies the dilemma, for how can we study that which we cannot even define?” (20).
  Documentation (see also Document) “Documentation was a set of techniques developed to manage significant (or potentially significant) documents, meaning, in practice, printed texts” (Buckland 1997).
Concepts/ideas/beliefs/theories Boundary objects “Terms used to pivot from one vocabulary to another”‘ (Smiraglia 2014, 99).
  Concept Concepts are the building blocks of thoughts (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2019).
“A concept is a knowledge unit” (Dahlberg 2010, 2946).
“A concept is regarded as the common element of both classification systems and thesauri” (Dahlberg 1974, 12).
 “…knowledge is made up of concepts; …  concepts can be ordered in diverse and useful ways (Smiraglia 2013, 2).
“The meaning (i.e., intension) of a term is the concept associated with that term” (Harney 2013, 135). 
“Concepts mean different things in different areas” (Hjørland 1997, 4).
  Epistemology “Epistemology is the division of philosophy that investigates the nature and origin of knowledge. In philosophy at large, epistemology is central because it embraces the theory of knowledge itself. The central problems for epistemology are the definition of knowledge, and the means of its acquisition” (Smiraglia 2014a, 20)
  Phenomenon/Phenomena Phenomenon (singular); phenomena (plural) – “A fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. (LEXICO Dictionary 2019)
  Specificity “…the concept of specificity. The level of language to be employed is related to the intended functionality of the thesaurus.
Specificity is related to the intended audience. …the more formal the language the more specific and precise the terms must be…” (Smiraglia 2014a, 81).
  Theory “Theory is a frequently‐tested (and thereby affirmed) statement of the interacting requirements of a phenomenon” (Smiraglia 2014a, 7)
Language Language Language – “A system which consists of a set of symbols (sentences) — realised phonetically by sounds — which are used in a regular order to convey a certain meaning. Apart from these formal characteristics, definitions of languages tend to highlight other aspects such as the fact that language is used regularly by humans and that it has a powerful social function.” (Small Dictionary of Linguistics)
  Linguistics Linguistics – “The study of language. (SmallDictionary of Linguistics)

Semantic [extension, intension]
Semantic – “Relating to meaning in language or logic” (LEXICO Dictionary 2019).
“Intension refers to the logical or definitional conditions that specify the set of all possible things a word or phrase could describe, while extension refers to the set of all actual things the word or phrase describes” (New World Encyclopedia 2018).
  Semiotic [sign] Semiotic [theory] – “the description of the dynamic process of being in relation of any sort” (Smiraglia 2014a, 24). “Semiotic theory originated with American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce” (23).
Semiotic [sign] – “For Peirce, the sign consists of three components. These are the Representamen, the Interpretant, and the Object. The representamen is the concept as signal, the interpretant is the concept as reception, and the object is the concept as perception” (24).
  Terminology “The body of terms used with a particular technical application in a subject of study, profession, etc.” (LEXICO Dictionary 2019).
Material Bibliography (list)(see also Bibliography (science) Bibliography – “a list of the books referred to in a scholarly work, typically printed as an appendix” (LEXICO Dictionary 2019).
  Catalog Catalog – a complete list of items, typically one in alphabetical or other systematic order (LEXICO Dictionary 2019).
Catalog – “retrieval tool; an organized compilation of bibliographic metadata or an organized set of surrogate records that represent the holdings of a particular collection and/or resources to which access may be gained …” (Joudrey and Taylor 2018, 625).
Library catalog – descriptive cataloging that applies a standardized set of rules, “currently RDA: Resource Description and Access, to record the title, authorship, and publication data for a work, describe the physical extent of the work, add bibliographic notes as necessary, and add access points for persons or entities associated with the creation of the work” (ALA 2019).
  Categories Category – “a grouping of people or things by type in any systematic arrangement” (Cambridge Dictionary 2019).
  Citation Citation – “A quotation of or explicit reference to a source for substantiation, as in a scholarly paper” (YOUR Dictionary 2019).
Citation Indexing – (Carina de Araújo, Gutierres Castanha and Hjørland 2019).  
  Document (see also Documentation) Document – “the physical container (an item) on which the text is recorded (Smiraglia 2001, 3).
Document – “an information-bearing message in recorded form” (Svenonius 2000, 8).
Document theory = (Buckland 2018)
  Information Information is knowledge perceived. That is, what is contained in documents is potential information—it is recorded knowledge that may be consulted for whatever reason. But when that knowledge is consulted and is perceived by the human brain, information is the result …. Information is a process and not a thing. Information therefore, is dynamic and not static. Information is what happens to a person when knowledge is perceived, because that new perception alters the person’s previously existing knowledge-base. (Smiraglia 2014, 11)
Information – “something received or obtained through informing” (Svenonius 2000, 7).
  Metadata “Metadata are descriptive terms that are applied to information resources, primarily for the purpose of facilitating retrieval” (Smiraglia, 2014a, 65).
  Objects [artifacts, books, etc.] … information objects, including not only books in libraries, but also representations of artifacts in museums and archival entities, as well as scientific models, ontological structures, and so forth. (Smiraglia 2008, 7).
Objects – ‘“boundary objects,” or terms used to pivot from one vocabulary to another”’ (Smiraglia 2014a, 99).
  Taxonomy “Taxonomy is a framework in which elements are defined, and categories are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive; …” (Smiraglia 2014a, 4).
“… a taxonomy is an ordered list of terms together with their definitions or other determinant characteristics. … the form and content of any taxonomy is dependent on the epistemology of the domain for which it has been developed. In the generic sense, meaning the assignment of phenomena to specific categories, taxonomy is a form of classification. … taxonomy a highly specific sort of ontology, that arrives along with the definitions of the characteristics of the phenomena involved, and that also includes certain kinds of relationships, such as genus-species, etc.” (51).
  Term Term – “a generic term for a specific kind of recorded knowledge (Smiraglia 2014a, 70).
Term – “although a word may have several senses, only one of them is intended when it is used as a term. Hence, a word is a term only when it designates one of its possible meanings” (Riggs 179, 152). 
“A term is a word or phrase used to denote a concept” (Pathak 2000, 29). 
Terms – “In a specific discipline, items can be categorized and named as concepts of that discipline. The delimitation of knowledge into specific compartments is not easy, and as a result, in many fields of knowledge, specifically in the social sciences, where the same term is used in different discipline-specific contexts, the literature of that field provides the context in which a term is used and to which concept a term represents” (27)
“In both computer science and information we see the construction of sets of terms (concepts) that are used in a specific community—or domain—mapped together with the relationships among them” (Smiraglia 2014a, 44).
Terms – “boundary objects, or points of opportunity for creating interoperable neighboring vocabularies from shared ontologies” (99).
  Textbooks [object] “An instantiation of a work” … whenever the work is manifest in physical form (in a book, for example).”  
(Smiraglia 2006).
  Text “A text is a set of semantic strings that communicate ideational content” (Smiraglia 2014a, 70).

“… the set of words that constitute a writing. A text is not the same as a document, which is the physical container
(an item) on which the text is recorded. A document may have only one text, but a text may appear on many documents.”
Text, then, is another generic term that denotes the communicative aspect of the evidentiary value of a document.”
(Smiraglia 2001, 3).
  Thesaurus “A thesaurus is a complete knowledge organization system structured in natural language instead of according to its ontological construct. That is, the elements in a thesaurus are given in alphabetical order. Each term is then accompanied by a set of relational indicators that show its place in the overall hierarchy. Thesauri can be faceted, when terms from several facets are chosen and entered into a system in a string. Thesauri increasingly are multi-lingual to accommodate complex cultural demands” (Smiraglia 2014a, 79).
Thesaurus (for information retrieval) – Dextre Clarke 201
Methods Bibliography [science] “The term bibliography can have two definitions: there is bibliography itself, an activity,, and there is a bibliography, the product of this activity. Bibliographies generally belong to two groups, one concerned with the listing of books and other documents, the other concerned primarily with the study of books as physical objects. … It includes two specialities called systematic and enumerative bibliography … The second group is concerned with the study of books as physical objects … The several overlapping specialities in this side of the field include analytical bibliography, concerned with the ways in which specific books as physical objects were produced; textual bibliography, which uses these findings in the important work of establishing authenticity of content; and historical bibliography, which considers the relationships between a civilization and its books …. [The two groups} usefully come together … most conspicuously in descriptive bibliography, concerned with the specification of particulars, based on the methods of analytical bibliography. (Krummel 1984, 4-5).

“It was around 1439 that Gutenberg created the mechanisms for printing from movable type that were to revolutionize the printing of books. We are looking, then, at the flowering of the marketplace for books only a bit more than a century after this remarkable invention. It was the need of the marketplace that drove the development of more sophisticated forms of bibliography. (Smiraglia 2014a, 35)

“By the middle of the twentieth century Clapp ( 1950 ) was writing that bibliography was one of the arts of communication found at a second level of utterance, treating prior records of communication, and in need of patterns of effective arrangement …. In the same volume, Jesse Shera and Margaret Egan referred to social role of bibliography as part of the problem of inter and between group communication (1950, 17)(Smiraglia 2014a, 40).
  Classification Classification – “the systematic ordering of knowledge” (Smiraglia 2014a, 48).
Classification –  “the placing of subjects into categories; in organization of information, classification is the process of determining where an information resource fits into a given hierarchy and then assigning the notation associated with the appropriate level of the hierarchy to the information resource and to its metadata” (Joudrey and Taylor 2018, 626).
Classification – (Hjørland 2017a)
  Classification [typology] “Classifications of characteristics of phenomena, and these need not be mutually exclusive nor collectively exhaustive” (Smiraglia 2014a, 53).
“The term typology is used for the same sort of arrangement when the entities involved are called types instead of
taxa. Typologies are used in anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, theology, and psychology. In most instances, typologies are less robust scientifically than taxonomies, which means a type is assigned based on empirical observation but always is subject to change given analysis from future observations” (53).
Classification – (Hjørland 2017a)
  Indexing Indexing – “intellectual analysis of the subject matter of a document (2.15) to identify the concepts (2.11) represented in it, and allocation of the corresponding index terms (2.26) to allow the information to be retrieved” (ISO 2011, 5)
The process of creating surrogate records, especially the access points for information packages; such work done in commercial enterprises is often called indexing, while similar work done in not-for-profit agencies is usually called cataloging (Taylor 1999, 244).
Indexing: Concepts and theory – (Hjørland 2018)
  Method Method – “a systematic procedure, technique, or mode of inquiry employed by or proper to a particular discipline or art.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2019)
  Ontology Ontology – “a domain of thought in philosophy. In philosophy ontology is the study of being—of what is. … ontology allows us to isolate certain principles of physical vs. metaphysical, of categories and the entities that are their contents, of the relationships among all of the above, of attributes of phenomena such as facts, properties, energy, space, time, etc.” (Smiraglia 2014a, 43).
Of Being Knowledge Knowledge – “that which is known” (Smiraglia 2014a, 3).
People/living things Persons and institutions in KO Class 92 covers selected items of knowledge organization literature. It is found in the cumulative database of International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO 2019).
  Actors Principal actors in the domain – knowledge producers and knowledge users (Smiraglia 2014a, 16).
  Author In the context of domain analysis – a producer of knowledge (Smiraglia, 2014a, 16). The primary metric for measuring the scientific productivity of an author in domain analysis techniques, e.g. Citation Analysis, Author Co-citation Analysis.
  Entities “Whatever we consider to be the most basic element of reality, we deem to be things or, more formally, entities” (Bean and Green 2001, 3).
Entity – “a term used in the field of knowledge organization to indicate an item; both “entity” and “item” are used in order to avoid using “book” or other such specific designation” (Taylor 1999, 242).
“A bibliographic entity is a unique instance of recorded knowledge (e.g., a dissertation, a novel, a symphony, etc.)” (Smiraglia 2001, 2).
Society Domain (see also Analysis) “A domain is a group that shares an ontology, undertakes common research or work, and also engages in discourse or communication, formally or informally” (Smiraglia 2014a, 85). “A domain is best understood as a unit of analysis for the construction of a KOS” (86).
  Social In the context of knowledge organization, the “social” refers to “the confluence of art, commerce, and technology… [that] come together at important moments to act as a collective catalyst to move the domain forward (Smiraglia 2014a, 33). In KO, the prevailing point of view is that “the growth of knowledge over the whole course of human history” (34) and the way knowledge is organized is shaped by the social realities of the world.
  Disciplines Discipline – (Hammarfeldt 2019)
  Subject Subject – one of “the attributes of a given bibliographic condition… such as “origin” or “subject” the better to define the intension of each set over against the intensions of the other sets” (Smiraglia 2014a, 13).
Subject (of document) (Hjørland 2017c)

Systems Universal classification Universal classification – “one that applies the same approach and terminology across domains” (Szostak 2014, 161).
Universal classification – “should be considered the sum of a number of domain specific systems (birds, cars, countries, religions, sciences, etc.).” (Hjørland 2017 447). 
Universal classification – “… bibliographic classifications such as the Dewey Decimal Classification or the Universal Decimal Classification” (Smiraglia 2014a, 52).


2.1 Alphabetical list of terms

bibliography (science)
boundary objects
classification (typology)
person and institutions in KO
universal classification

3.0 Taxonomic References

American Library Association (ALA). 2019. “Descriptive cataloging.”

Bean, Carol A. and Rebecca Green. 2001. Relationships in the Organization of Knowledge. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Buckland, Michael. 1997. What is a “Document”?

Cambridge Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Category.”

Carina de Araujo, Paula, Renata Cristina Gutierres Castanha and Birger Hjørland. 2019. “Citation Indexing.” ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization

Clapp, Verner W. 1950. The role of bibliographic organization in contemporary civilization. In Shera, Jesse H. & Egan, Margaret E. eds. Bibliographic organization: papers presented before the fi fteenth annual conference of the Graduate Library School July 24–29, 1950 . Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 3–23.

Dahlberg Ingetraut. 1974. “Zur Theorie des Begriffs [Towards a theory of the concept].” International Classification 1: 12-19.

Dahlberg, Ingetraut. 2010. “International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO).” In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 3rd ed. Boca Raton, Fla.: Taylor & Francis, 2941-49.

Dextre Clarke, Stella. 2019. “Thesaurus (for information retrieval). Knowledge Organization 46: 439-59.

Hammarfeldt, Bjørn. 2019. “Discipline.” ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization

Harney M. J. 2013. Intentionality, Sense and the Mind.  Phaenomenologica 94. [Berlin/Heidelberg]: Springer Science & Business Media.

Hjørland, Birger. 1997. Information Seeking and Subject Representation: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Information Science. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press.

Hjørland, Birger. 2017c. “Classification”. Knowledge Organization 44: 97-128

Hjørland, Birger. 2017b. “Domain Analysis.” Knowledge Organization 44: 436-464.

Hjørland, Birger. 2017c. “Subject (of Documents).” Knowledge Organization 44: 55-64

Hjørland, Birger. 2018. “Indexing: Concepts and Theory.” Knowledge Organization 45: 609-39.

International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO). 2019. “Knowledge organization literature.” ISO 25964-1:2011.

International Organization for Standardization. 2011. “Thesauri and interoperability with other vocabularies – Part 1: Thesauri for information retrieval.”

Joudrey, Daniel N. and Arlene G. Taylor. 2018. The Organization of Information. 4th ed., with the assistance of Katherine M. Wisser. Library and Information Science Series Text. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited.

Krummel, D.W. 1984. Bibliographies: Their Aims and Methods. New York: Mansell.

LEXICO Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Catalog.”

LEXICO Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Phenomenon.”

LEXICO Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Semantic.”

LEXICO Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Terminology.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Method.”

New World Encyclopedia. 2018. S.v., “Intension and Extension.”

Pathak, Lalit. 2000. “Concept-Term Relationship and a Classified Schedule of Isolates for the Term ‘Concept.’” Knowledge Organization 27: 27-34.

Riggs, Fred. 1979. “A New Paradigm for Social Science Terminology.” International Classification 6: 150-58.

Shera, Jesse H., and Margaret E. Egan, eds. 1950. Bibliographic organization: papers presented before the Fifteenth Annual Conference of the Graduate Library School, July 24–29, 1950. The University of Chicago studies in library science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. University of Chicago studies in library science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

University of Chicago studies in library science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Small Dictionary of Linguistics. n.d. S.v., “Language.” S.v., “Linguistics.”

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2001. The Nature of “A Work”: Implications for the Organization of Knowledge. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2006. “Instantiation: Empirical Emergence of a Global Phenomenon.” Paper presented at CIDOC-CRM SIG workshop, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, October 24.

Smiraglia, Richard. 2008. “A Meta-Analysis of Instantiation as a Phenomenon of Information Objects.” Culture del testo e del document 9, n° 25: 5-25.

Smiraglia, Richard P. 2013. “The Epistemological Dimension of Knowledge Organization.” IRIS-Revista de Informação, Memória e Tecnologia 2 no. 1.

Smiraglia, Richard. 2014a. The Elements of Knowledge Organization. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Smiraglia, RIchard P. 2014b. Cultural Synergy in Information Institutions. New York: Springer.

Smiraglia, Richard P. and María J. López-Huertas. 2015. “Domain Analysis Redux: An Introduction.” Knowledge Organization 42: 553-56.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2019. S.v., “Concepts.”

Svenonius, Elaine. 2000. The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Szostak, Rick. 2014. “Classifying for Social Diversity.” Knowledge Organization 41: 160-70.

YOUR Dictionary. 2019. S.v., “Citation.”

*Richard P. Smiraglia is Senior Fellow, Institute for Knowledge Organization and Structure, Inc. Joshua A. Henry is Cataloging Specialist, Westminster Choir College, Princeton NJ, and Associate Fellow of IKOS. Elizabeth Milonas is Professor, City Tech (CUNY) and Associate Fellow of IKOS. Christine Marchese is Assistant Professor, Nassau County Community College and Associate Fellow of IKOS. Sergey Zherebchevsky is PhD candidate, Long Island University and Associate Fellow of IKOS.

Version 1.1. Published 3 February 2022.

©2022 Institute for Knowledge Organization and Structure, Inc. All rights reserved.

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