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Nodes and arcs: concept map, semiotics, and knowledge organization

Alon Friedman (New York, New York, USA)
Richard P. Smiraglia (Information Organization Research Group, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin‐Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 11 January 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the research reported here is to improve comprehension of the socially‐negotiated identity of concepts in the domain of knowledge organization. Because knowledge organization as a domain has as its focus the order of concepts, both from a theoretical perspective and from an applied perspective, it is important to understand how the domain itself understands the meaning of a concept.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides an empirical demonstration of how the domain itself understands the meaning of a concept. The paper employs content analysis to demonstrate the ways in which concepts are portrayed in KO concept maps as signs, and they are subjected to evaluative semiotic analysis as a way to understand their meaning. The frame was the entire population of formal proceedings in knowledge organization – all proceedings of the International Society for Knowledge Organization's international conferences (1990‐2010) and those of the annual classification workshops of the Special Interest Group for Classification Research of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (SIG/CR).

Findings

A total of 344 concept maps were analyzed. There was no discernible chronological pattern. Most concept maps were created by authors who were professors from the USA, Germany, France, or Canada. Roughly half were judged to contain semiotic content. Peirceian semiotics predominated, and tended to convey greater granularity and complexity in conceptual terminology. Nodes could be identified as anchors of conceptual clusters in the domain; the arcs were identifiable as verbal relationship indicators. Saussurian concept maps were more applied than theoretical; Peirceian concept maps had more theoretical content.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates important empirical evidence about the coherence of the domain of knowledge organization. Core values are conveyed across time through the concept maps in this population of conference papers.

Keywords

Citation

Friedman, A. and Smiraglia, R.P. (2013), "Nodes and arcs: concept map, semiotics, and knowledge organization", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 69 No. 1, pp. 27-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220411311295315

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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