[OAI-eprints] Introducing the Subject Categorization discussion

Hugo Fjelsted Alrøe Hugo.Alroe@agrsci.dk
Thu, 16 Jan 2003 18:00:27 +0100

Pauline, Steve, 
The arguments on the issue of subject categorization probably depends very
much on which type of archive you have in mind. I will describe our own
Eprints archive to give you an idea of what I mean.

We have recently established an archive which is not exactly institutional
nor disciplinary and yet a little bit of both. It is a transdisciplinary
archive focusing on a specific research area, organic agriculture. It is
founded by a single national research organization focusing on organic
agriculture, but we have invited other research organizations to join us and
at present three countries are  considering to join the archive.

>From this perspective we have found two subject hierarchies useful. One =
is a
country:organization:project hierarchy useful for documentation of research
products. The other is a thematic subject hierarchy which is useful for
cross-project communication on research subjects and for communication of
research results to other users. We have implemented both subject
hierarchies in the archive. 

The purpose of the thematic hierarchy is to provide an overview of research
areas in relation to the description and development of the organic food
system and its subsystems such as farms and production systems. It is
therefore not really based on research disciplines, although there is some
correspondence between disciplines and research areas.  We have not found
the general classification systems or the specific agricultural hierarchies,
such as FAO's AGRIS-CARIS Subject Categories
&Language=EN), to be very useful from this perspective, since they are
entirely discipline based. And incidentally, I don't think that there is one
universal category scheme that can be useful for all different kinds of

I mainly see these two subject hierarchies, or 'browse views' as they are
called in Eprints archives, as within-archive communication tools that
provide an overview of this particular archive. The communication across
different types of archive must to a large degree depend on more flexible
search tools. 

The drawback of these choices could be a communication barrier within the
scholarly disciplines. But for one thing, this communication still takes
place in scientific journals and conferences, and second, the strong search
facilities for OAI archives and the internet provide general communication
tools that can also be useful for within-discipline communication. Provided
that there are good abstracts, the existing Eprint search facilities work
fine because they can search the abstract. And full text search engines,
such as Google, can complement this. The problem of relying on Google for
archive searches (Google searches can be restricted to a specific domain,
such as www.orgprints.org) is that the timescale for updates is something
like 6-8 weeks. 

Hugo Fjelsted Alrøe
Projektforsker - Postdoctoral Scientist
Forskningscenter for Økologisk Jordbrug - www.foejo.dk
Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming - www.darcof.dk 
Administrator of Organic Eprints at www.orgprints.org 
Forskningscenter Foulum
Postboks 50, DK-8830 Tjele 
Email:  hugo.alroe@agrsci.dk
Phone:  +45 8999 1679
Fax:    +45 8999 1673 
Personal workpage: www.alroe.dk/hugo