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Concept theory and semiotics in knowledge organization

Alon Friedman (New York, New York, USA)
Martin Thellefsen (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Aalborg Branch, Aalborg Øst, Denmark)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




The purpose of this paper is to explore the basics of semiotic analysis and concept theory that represent two dominant approaches to knowledge representation, and explore how these approaches are fruitful for knowledge organization.


In particular the semiotic theory formulated by the American philosopher C.S. Peirce and the concept theory formulated by Ingetraut Dahlberg are investigated. The paper compares the differences and similarities between these two theories of knowledge representation.


The semiotic model is a general and unrestricted model of signs and Dahlberg's model is thought from the perspective and demand of better knowledge organization system (KOS) development. It is found that Dahlberg's concept model provides a detailed method for analyzing and representing concepts in a KOS, where semiotics provides the philosophical context for representation.


This paper is the first to combine theories of knowledge representation, semiotic and concept theory, within the context of knowledge organization.



Friedman, A. and Thellefsen, M. (2011), "Concept theory and semiotics in knowledge organization", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 67 No. 4, pp. 644-674.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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