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The relationship between classification research and information retrieval research, 1952 to 1970

Shawne D. Miksa (University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 9 October 2017

Issue publication date: 12 October 2017



The purpose of this paper is to present the initial relationship between the Classification Research Group (CRG) and the Center for Documentation and Communication Research (CDCR) and how this relationship changed between 1952 and 1970. The theory of normative behavior and its concepts of worldviews, social norms, social types, and information behavior are used to characterize the relationship between the small worlds of the two groups with the intent of understanding the gap between early classification research and information retrieval (IR) research.


This is a mixed method analysis of two groups as evidenced in published artifacts by and about their work. A thorough review of historical literature about the groups as well as their own published works was employed and an author co-citation analysis was used to characterize the conceptual similarities and differences of the two groups of researchers.


The CRG focused on fundamental principles to aid classification and retrieval of information. The CDCR were more inclined to develop practical methods of retrieval without benefit of good theoretical foundations. The CRG began it work under the contention that the general classification schemes at the time were inadequate for the developing IR mechanisms. The CDCR rejected the classification schemes of the times and focused on developing punch card mechanisms and processes that were generously funded by both government and corporate funding.


This paper provides a unique historical analysis of two groups of influential researchers in the field of library and information science.



Miksa, S.D. (2017), "The relationship between classification research and information retrieval research, 1952 to 1970", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 6, pp. 1343-1379.



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