With the right software or programming, you can produce different views of your taxonomy or thesaurus. The more you can produce, the better. Some (but not all) possibilities:

  • A full hierarchical display (or a multiple level list)
  • A systematic list or a listing by term records
  • An alphabetic list
  • A hierarchical list – not all the hierarchies but you list to a certain number of hierarchies

You usually want to see it in more than one view. The more views you can see it in, the more perspective you gain on how that thing is put together. So, you might have a systematic view as you see here.

Or you might have an alphabetic view, which just gives the pieces of the record.

These are different ways to see a taxonomy, perhaps offering different insights.

Here’s another alphabetic view.

And, here’s another with related terms displayed.

There are a myriad of options of the ways that you can do this. Different software will give you different options.

Once you’ve got this thing pretty well together and you have organized the hierarchies, and you have term records, then it is time to go get outside review. You want to get both user level review and subject matter experts. The two groups will use it differently and think about it differently. So I would get feedback from both types of groups if you can.

By the way, recently I have found that the best way to work with subject matter experts is to have someone who works on the thesaurus – one of the taxonomists – sit with the subject matter experts (SME) and get them to give their feedback. The taxonomist can implement the changes and also gets the perspective of that expert. They can jot them down as notes or make changes immediately. I find that, in general, if you spend a two-hour session with an SME, it takes another eight hours to really implement those changes. Just a rule of thumb, so that you know, when you get SME feedback, how long it might take to deal with it.

Then, test your taxonomy and use it. I’ll discuss how next time.

Marjorie M.K. Hlava President, Access Innovations


Note: The above posting is one of a series based on a presentation, The Theory of Knowledge, given at the Data Harmony Users Group meeting in February of 2011. The presentation covered the theory of knowledge as it relates to search and taxonomies.