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Hula Kahlal


S3236327




Controlled and Uncontrolled Vocabulary Systems




Course Name:

Content Management

Course Code:

ISYS2357

Name:
Hula Kahlal

Student ID:

S3236327


Hula Kahlal


S3236327



Table of Contents


Executive Summary








1

Introduction









1

Advantages and Disadvantages of
Controlled vocabularies

2

Advantages and Disadvantages of Uncontrolled vocabularies

2

Taxonomies and Thesaurus







3, 4

Folksonomies









4, 5

Decision making process on which method to use



5

Conclusion










5

References










6






Hula Kahlal


S3236327



Executive Summary:

Above, we briefly defined controlled and uncontrolled vocabulary systems, examples of
each system (such as taxonomies, thesaurus, folksonomies and the different social
bookmarking websites), and the different ways they assist the organis
ations.
In th
e
following parts of this

report
, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using the
different systems of controlled and uncontrolled vocabularies, giving examples of each and
how they work. We will discuss the usefulness and limita
tions of taxonomies, thesaurus,
folksonomies or tagging, and how each one of these systems functions, in comparison to
one another, and the considerations and guidelines on how to choose the best system for
an organisation’s information, will be discussed
and the factors affecting the decision
-
making process.

Introduction:

Co
ntrolled vocabularies are centralised systems used

to identify and easily detect words or
terms that may not be familiar to the user

and provide descriptions, for knowledge, storage
and

retrieval purposes
.

Adopting controlled vocabulary systems mainly helps solving
language problems. For example, there are many languages, including the English language,
have words that can take a number of different meanings, used in different situations
, also
there are many words in English that can be pronounced the same, but spelt differently,
which is the reason why many people misspell words. Controlled vocabulary systems help
narrowing down the possibility of language errors by providing the terms (
Intellogist 2009),
and help

the user in identifying these differences in language and use the most appropriate
one according to their need.

Types of controlled vocabularies differ in th
eir structure
, and according to the user’s need.
Some systems can take
alphabetical order, and some can take hierarchical structure, where
the terms are narrowed down from the broadest concept to the narrowest term related to
it

(University of Glamorgan n.d.)
.

O
ne way of using controlled vocabulary systems is
Taxonomies
,

whic
h most medium to large organisations use to help their employees and
other users understand the culture and the
terminology

used within the organisation. I
n the
databases of such
organisations, there may be terms or abbreviations that may not be
familiar t
o the user, and this is why
controlled vocabulary systems (or taxonomies)
make it
easier for the user to come back to the term and understand the full meaning of it by
subject/word searching.

Since this is the
purpose

of controlled vocabularies
, the terms

used
should be clear and in a simple language.


Uncontrolled vocabularies

(social tagging, social bookmarking, etc...) have become very
popular in the past few years, for its usefulness and ease of use to get back to the resources
or the materials used
without having
to search for it again, and the ability to retrieve, share
and organise them
by one click.

In the past few years, social bookmarking websites such as
Delicious, Twitter, Digg, and many others, have spread widely around the world and gained
popularity for their ease of use.

Hula Kahlal


S3236327



Main Points:


Advantages and Disadvantages of Controlled vocabulary syst
ems

Looking at the advantages of using Controlled vocabulary systems, when

searching f
or a
material or piece of information
, controlled vocabularies reduce the l
ikelihood of inaccurate
results, as their main purpose is to increase the clarification and spe
cification of the terms
being searched.

They help to ensure that the materials are listed

in a consistent and
predictable m
anner that will help the user

obtain results that

more closely match their
needs, and less time consumed when searching, as the user
is familiar with what they are
searching for.

Controlled vocabularies help users to ident
ify the nature of the ordnance

they are searching
so they can more quickly decide if it is appropriate and remove ambiguities resulting from
varying usage of different

terms.
A
controlled vocabulary helps users identify the context of
the terms more

easily (Vernau 2005).

On the other hand, adopting any type
of controlled vocabularies

can

have some
disadvantages or setbacks worth mentioning. First of all, there may be so
me human errors
within the system as the entire contr
olled vocabulary systems are built

by humans.
Especially when deciding which terms to include and in what classification. It may also
be
time
-
consuming and costly, as it
takes time to actually agree upon

the terms that can be
used and provide

a full staff training on how

the adopted system works and how to use it
.

Another issue that may arise is the need to keep the system updated, as it easily runs out
of
time, and many new terms

may need to be added.

Wh
en adopting and getting trained on how the controlled vocabularies work, it is a great
search tool to use and brings back benefits to the organisation that’s using it.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Uncontrolled vocabulary systems

Adopting uncontrolled
vocabularies has

some positives that are worth mentioning. Firstly, it
gives the person the freedom to store whatever information that might be of a future use,
and organise them the way a person prefers
, which is referred to as “Democratic control”.

It
al
so allows people to share and exchange information more easily and freely, due to the use
of social tagging websites.

It

is also flexible
,
easy to use and less costly

and

less
time
-
consuming
compared to controlled vocabularies

(Sethearly 2007).

Although th
ere
are
valuable advantages using uncontrolled vocabularies, there are also
considerable disadvantages that need to be discussed.

U
ncontrol
led vocabularies may
create

redundancy

in terms
, as it allows the use of singular and plural forms, as well as
incons
istency of spelling,
punctuality

and capitalization
. It is also less reliable as the person
is free to store any information they come across, which may be meaningless and/or
inaccurate

(Sethearly 2007).

Hula Kahlal


S3236327



Taxonomy and Thesaurus

Taxonomy is the practice of classifications of
‘things’

based on their relatedness and
relationships
. It

follow
s

a hierarchical manner, where the

main purpose is to provide labels
for major theories within a concept and
narrows them down to
all the related terms that fall
under each
label

(Metataxis

2007
)
.
For

example, classifying

The
Human Body
, as a broad
concept, and narrowing it down to
The systems

of the human body, each system’s organ
etc
...
This use of hierarchal structure of taxonomy
helps preventing the repetition

of
terms

and data redundancy
,
and consequently, increased efficiency of search and decreased
searching
-
time
.
The use of this taxonomic manner can be applied to any group of concepts
that are related in a hierarchical manner.

In the recent years, the economy has shifted greatly towards knowledge and knowledge
management. This is when organisations came to realise that it is essential to keep their
information classified and stored efficiently, to be able to minimize the time a
nd effort
consumed when searching for information, and consequently minimizing costs by lowering
the number of staff. It is important for an organisation to always up
-
date their taxonomy
according to the type and amount of information it uses and the user
requirement
(TSO
n.d.).

T
esaurus is defined as a controlled vocabulary system, containing a classified

and agreed
upon

list of terms,
for the purpose of searching and retrieval
.

The main three characteristics
of

a

thesauri are:

1.

Equivalence: describing the
relationship between the synonyms

2.

Hierarchy: links, establishing the hierarchal structure

3.

Association: the connections between more loosely
-
re
lated concepts in the
thesaurus (Gilchrist 2002).

When using a thesaurus as a search tool, the user can enter the keyword they’re looking
for, then the system matches this particular keyword to the available words that can
have the same or similar meanings, it is then the user’s decision to choose which t
erm is
closest to the term searched. From a user’s point of view, thesaurus systems can be
more complicated than search engines, however, it is important to realise the
importance of using thesaurus, when it comes to providing specific results, in an
effic
ient way, and also an important tool for term
retrieval (
University

of Glamorgan
n.d.
).


An example of a thesaurus is the legal thesaurus created by
The Legal Information Access
Centre (LIAC) of the State Library of NSW, containing the legal terms. It is a two level list of
subject headings with particular emphasis on plain English legal information
.

The two
different levels are labelled as “Top level
(parent) categories”, containing the broad
headings, such as Accidents and Compensation, Business and Finance, Biotechnology, etc...
Hula Kahlal


S3236327



And the “Second level (Child) terms”, including all the subheadings that fall under each
broad heading, which makes it look

like the following:

Accidents and Compensation


Emergency services








Insurance








Negligence and liability







Victims compensation








Workers compensation

Business and Finance



Banking








Bankruptcy








Credit







Debt








Electronic commerce








Unclaimed money

Biotechnology




Agriculture








Biotechnology








Cloning








Genetic engineering








Genetically modified foods








Genetics


Accidents and compensation, Business and Finance, Biotechnology are th
e BT’s (Broad
Terms) of this thesaurus, where the subheadings that fall under the broader one
s are the
NT’s (Narrower Terms)
(WebLaw n.d.
).

RT’s
is defined as Related Terms, so for example, adding the term “Interest rates” would be
directly related to
Business and Finance.

UF’s stands for Use For. It is basically developed to
resolve the problems of synonymy. For example, the term “Liability” would be a UF, because
it is a synonym for Debt, both falling under Business and Finance.

Folksonomy

Folksonomy
is defined as the
decentralised
classification system resulted from the tagging a
person does of any piece of information or a URL address

of their interest and maintains,
stores and organises them the way the person prefers

for retrieval purposes.

Folksonomies allow internet users to find one another in regards to common interests.
Social ta
gging websites (Delicious.com, YahooB
uzz.com and so on) make this process easier
for users to find their desired resources. They have also influenced the popular
ity of
folksonomies, by establishing communities who share similar insights and who can easily
locate the information that is within the topic of their interest.

Delicious.com is one of the most popular social bookmarking
services
, which allows you to
tag
and share your tags with other people once you are registered as a Delicious user.
Delicious has several advantages, which makes it more useable and popular than many
other tagging websites. First, delicious allows you to tag information under any keyword
that the user might find relevant along with writing a note about it, and store it in any folder
they would like. Second, the ease of access to Delicious bookmarks and readable by any
Hula Kahlal


S3236327



internet browser and/or RSS readers. Third, it is searchable. So it mean
s any term you might
want to look up, it will come up with a number of tags within the area of your interest.

There
are

many other social tagging website
s
, similar to Delicious, with their unique
advantages that make them recognisable, such as Twitter, Stu
mbleUpon, Digg, YahooBuzz,
etc...

The difference between using a controlled vocabulary system and using Folksonomy is that
Folksonomy gives the freedom to the individual to tag any piece of information that’s
related to their topic of interest, put it unde
r any name they think is relevant and store
anywhere they like. While controlled vocabularies are more restricted in terms of lang
uage
(i.e. spelling, punctuation
, etc...) and narrows down the search terms to what’s available in
the system.

Decision
-
making

process on which method to use

The choice of whether controlled o
r uncontrolled vocabularies

is more useful for a particular
organisation, depends on the size of the organisation itself, and the amount of information
it deals with, and the degree of relat
edness.
For example, if the organ
isation uses a
hierarchal flow o
f information, then it might be a better idea to use the controlled
vocabulary systems, such as taxonomy, as it uses a hierarchal structure of information flow,
but if an organisation’s aim i
s to define any term that might be ambiguous for their users,
then using
Thesauri

would be useful.

Conclusion:

Controlled and uncontrolled vocabularies are systems to organise data and information for
retrieval and storage purposes. Controlled vocabularies

are a centralised system where
information is gathered and put in a hierarchal structure. For example, taxonomies follow a
hierarchal structure in putting a concept or a set of related concepts together, from the
broadest idea, and narrowing it down to th
e most detailed term or concept. Thesaurus is
another controlled vocabulary system t
hat is simpler than taxonomy
. Its main purpose is to
define any term that might be ambiguous to the user. Thesaurus breaks down the concept
into two main categories, Broad
Terms (BT’s) and Narrow Terms (NT’s), where the broader
concepts fall under the BT section,

and any narrower term

falls under the NT section. The
benefit of using such systems is that it cuts off the searching time, as it provides the users
with specific t
erms, and their proper spelling, and it ensures that the terms are in a constant
manner and unambiguous. On the other hand, there are some costs that the organis
ation
needs to pay attention to i
f adopting controlled vocabularies. Such systems can be costly

and time consuming,
as training sessions may need to be conducted
.

Moreover,

such
systems need to be kept up
-
to
-
date

and double
-
checked
, as there’s a bigger chance of
making human errors.

Hula Kahlal


S3236327



Uncontrolled vocabularie
s are more decentralised and

more popular a
nd common
nowadays, especially in the World Wide Web. Folksonomies or social tagging allows
individuals to tag and store whatever information they find useful unde
r any term tha
t

may
be relevant
, and share it to those users with the same interest. It gives

users the freedom to
save and name information they way they find appropriate, which can be a disadvantage at
the same time, because people usually tend to misspell some terms, and miss out on
punctuality, which can be misleading to other users. Organisat
ions should look deeply into
the advantages and disadvantages of both systems, consider the costs and the benefits that
can be achieved when adopting any of the systems, according to their need, culture and the
size of information mass they deal with in th
eir every
-
day and long term use.



















Hula Kahlal


S3236327




References:

Educause Learning Initiative, 2005, ‘7 things you need to know about Social Bookmarking’, Educause
Learning Initiative, viewed 22 March 2010,
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7001.pdf

Gilchrist, A, 2002, ‘Thesauri, taxonomies and ontologies
-

an etymological note’,
CURA Consortium
and TFPL Ltd
,
vol.59, n
o.1, pp.7
-
18, viewed

22 March 2010, Emerald


Intellogist, 2009,
Controlled Vocabulary
, Intellogist, viewed 22 May 2010,
http://www.intellogist.com/wiki/Controlled_Vocabulary

Metataxis, 2007,

Search vs.Taxon
omy?,
Metataxis Limited, viewed 22 May 2010
,
http://www.metataxis.com/exponent
-
0.96.5
-
GA/index.php?section=24


Murnane, L, June 2006, ‘Social Bookmarking, Folksonomies and Web

2.0 Tools’, Medford
,

v
ol.

14,

Iss.

6;


pg. 26, 13 pgs, viewed 22 March 2010, ProQuest


Plosker, G, Jan/Feb 2005, ‘Taxonomies: Facts and Opportunities for Information Professionals’
Medford,
v
ol.

29,

Iss.

1;


pg. 58, 3 pgs, viewed 22 March 2010, ProQuest


Reamy, T, Nov/Dec 2007, ‘Taxonomy Development Advice’, Silver Spring,
v
ol.

21,

Iss.

6;


pg. 35, 3
pgs, viewed 22 March 2010, ProQuest

Sethearly, 2007, ‘Folksonomy versus Taxonomy’, blog, 15 February, viewed 22 March 2010,
http://sethearley.wordpress.com/2007/02/15/folksonomy
-
versus
-
taxonomy/

Spiteri, L, 2007, ‘Structure and form of folksonomy tags: The road to the public library catalogue’,
School of Information Managemen
t
, vol.4, n
o.2, viewed 22 March 2010,
http://www.webology.ir/2007/v4n2/a41.html

TSO, n.d.,
The business benefits of taxonomy
, The Information Management Company, viewed 22
May 2010,
http://www.the
-
stationery
-
office.com/gempdf/TaxonomyV1.pdf


University of Glamorgan, n.d.,
Chapter 2
-

Thesauri in information searching
, University of
Galmorgan, viewed 22 May 2010,
http://www.comp.glam.ac.uk/~FACET/dblocks/DBlocksPhD2004_Chapter2_thesauri.pdf


Vernau, J, 2005,

‘How Does Taxonomy Work’,

‘The Business Benefits of Taxonomy’
,
SchemaLogic,
WA, viewed 22 March 2010,
http://cm
-
mitchell.com/PDFs/WP
-
BusinessBenefitsTaxonomy.pdf


WebLaw, n.d.,
The WebLaw Thesaurus
, WebLaw, viewed 22 May 2010,

http://weblaw.edu.au