Where's My Stuff?
The process and art of creating taxonomies has long been a
core competency of information professionals, but one that seem to have lost its
glamour. Recently, the problem has become overwhelming with the sheer volume of
available content. Consequently, the effective categorizing of data is back in
Working draft Last revised June 7, 2002 View a Printer-Friendly Version of this Web Page!
Special Libraries Association (SLA) 2002 Annual Meeting
Biggest challenge - Productivity?
Reorganization of biology at the molecular and biochemical levels adds to information overload.
"The first layer of the semantic Web consists of ontologies and taxonomies ... "A huge amount of this is being done very desperately in the realm of biotech, for the human genome and new drug development." Tim Berners Lee, August 30, 2001 keynote at Software Development East in Boston. Alexandra Weber Morales "Web founder seeks simplicity" Show Daily Online, 2001 http://www.sdgnews.com/sd2001es_006/sd2001es_006.htm.
Do we even know what a gene is anymore?
Taxonomies and ontologies can help
Time and cost-effective
Improve communication among diverse interdisciplinary, geographically scattered work groups.
Interoperability among databases. Text mining of scientific literature increasing.
taxonomy: Adds hierarchical relationships (broader terms, narrower terms) and related terms to controlled vocabularies for improved information retrieval (preferred terms collect synonyms and near-synonyms).
navigational taxonomies: Improve web navigation for intuitive browsing and query expansion, by careful choice of top-level categories and sub-categories. Focus on user behavior and mental models. More... Information analysis & interpretation glossary
top-down, bottom -up taxonomies
Narrower terms: controlled vocabularies, descriptive taxonomies, molecular taxonomies, morphological taxonomies, orthogonal taxonomies, phylogenetic taxonomies
ontology: Can make unstructured or semi- structured information) machine- understandable as well as machine- readable, amenable to logic and reasoning, needs unambiguous term definition. Comes from philosophy and artificial intelligence.
Narrower terms common ontology, dynamic ontology, heavyweight ontologies, lightweight ontologies, logic based ontologies, micro- theories, taxonomies, natural language ontologies, object based ontologies
More... Information management & interpretation glossary Related terms: metadata, RDF, semantic web, XML
Where I am coming from
CHI is in the "information overload" business. But we get overloaded too!
Pharmacy librarian: Sheppard
Library, Mass College of Pharmacy, Boston MA
Why am I doing this?
Compiling my glossaries: Be able to talk about highly technical, complex subjects > 30 seconds.
The more I know, the more I can admit not knowing.
Putting puzzle pieces together to see how they fit (often in unexpected ways).
In- house indexing, information retrieval, content management, integration, understanding, knowledge management. MeSH headings don't always cover emerging technologies.
Users find it hard to articulate what they want? I know I do.
Change and uncertainty
Old ways seem less productive
Opportunities - as well as threats
Biggest challenge? Integration
Many disciplines relevant to pharmaceutical and biotechnology research.
analytical chemistry, biochemistry, bioengineering, bioinformatics, biomaterials, biomechanics, biophysics, biotechnology, cell biology, clinical and research medicine, computer sciences, developmental and structural biology, electrochemistry, electronics, engineering, enzymology, epidemiology, imaging, immunology, mathematics, microbiology, molecular biology, optics, pharmacology, public health, statistics, toxicology, virology and aspects of business, chaos theory, ethics and law are all relevant.
How do/can different disciplines communicate and collaborate?
My taxonomy methodology
Assess user needs
Measure project progress
Share best practices!
Always more terms to add: How to look for other unfamiliar terms glossary methodology
Scope notes and history About genomic glossaries & taxonomies
How does this relate to your projects?
Assess user needs
-Start small and low-key
-Plan for ongoing change
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Best practices for knowledge management, intranets, extranets, portals are inextricably intertwined with taxonomies.
Bibliography: Don't reinvent the wheel Clinical (and more general) vocabularies, taxonomies, thesauri, ontologies
Lessons learned –
Modularity - Reusability
Descriptive - not prescriptive definitions
Preferred terms: New variants keep evolving, hard to say which will prevail. Would clarifying the degree to which terms are synonymous (or nearly so) justify the difficulty in reaching consensus on variant meanings? FAQ Question #3 How do you determine the relative prevalence/ popularity of variant terms? Google helps
Human vs. computer indexing
Aim first for highly visible results
Relevance is inherently subjective.
challenges -- for future
Web data analysis AND interpretation
ROI return on investment
Make drug discovery and development move faster? Getting successful drugs into the market earlier?
Points to remember
in my opinion
Tradeoffs and balancing acts
Pharmaceutical and biotech companies on bleeding-edge, cutting-edge.
Ongoing process: incremental changes, periodic major restructuring.
It's not just about the technology.
Plan for ongoing change!
Taxonomies and ontologies sound sexier than thesauri or controlled vocabularies.
Information packaging and delivery is important.
Take home messages
Tools to help people save time, find information fast.
Aim to be a pragmatic
Librarians (pharmaceutical, biotech and others) are smart, knowledgeable people with terrific interdisciplinary expertise, good at classification, organization and content management, with great networks of colleagues and friends.
What can we learn from each other?
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