The KOSo (Knowledge Organization Systems Observatory) is a project of DANS—Data Archiving and Networked Services—a division of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The project evolved during the KNAW Visiting Professorship of Richard Smiraglia in 2017-2018 and was jointly supervised by then DANS Director Peter Doorne, Research Director Andrea Scharnhorst and Prof. Smiraglia. The principal actor in the construction of the KOSo was Gerard Coen, now a DANS project manager.


The objectives of the KOSo are to develop insight into the history, evolution and mutual dependencies of domain-specific KOSs. The KOSo as presently constituted contains over 125 KOSs from the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and the Life Sciences (LS), which have been been described using a broad variety of attributes.


A variety of options for a permanent home for the KOSo are under exploration. In the meantime, the project team together with DANS (all of whom are members of IKOS) have elected to share the extant data files. These files are in the form of fairly complex Excel™ spreadsheets, which we make available here now.


The basic structure of the KOSo is explained in three poster presentations:


-“Building a Knowledge Organisation Systems (KOS) Observatory.” Download a copy here.

-“404 Error Not Found: Why We Need to Rescue Endangered Knowledge Organization Systems.” Download a copy here.

-“Classifying KOSs: The Use of Dahlberg’s ICC in the DANS KOS Observatory (KOSo).” Download a copy here.

-“Observing trajectories of KOSs Across Space and Time: The DANS KOS Observatory (KOSo).” Download a copy here.


Publications include:

Gerard Coen, Richard P. Smiraglia, Peter Doorn, Andrea Scharnhorst. 2019. “Observing trajectories of KOSs Across Space and Time: The DANS KOS Observatory (KOSo).” In Proceedings from North American Symposium on Knowledge Organization, Vol. 7. Drexel University. DOI: Download a copy here.


Coen, Gerard and Richard P. Smiraglia. 2019. “Toward Better Interoperability of the NARCIS Classification.” Knowledge Organization 46(5): 345-53. DOI:10.5771/0943-7444-2019-5-345. Download a copy here.

KOS Observatory Social Sciences Humanities

KOS Observatory Life Sciences


IKOS Version 1.0. Published 20 July 2020.
©2020 Institute for Knowledge Organization and Structure, Inc. All rights reserved.

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