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Domain Analysis in Library and Information

Science (LIS)

by Birger Hjørland
Visiting professor Latvia,

October 13, 2006 10.00-12.00 (2 x 45 min)


There are different names for our field: Information Science
(IS), Information Science & Technology, Library and
Information Science (LIS) and Documentation. Some terms
such as Information Management are also gaining ground.
I shall not today go deeper into this. I refer to Core
Concepts in Library & Information Science for further
information. What is important is, however, that what I am
talking about is the theoretical foundations of our discipline,
whatever it is named. I am thus assuming the existence of
our field as both a field of research and practice.


on the other hand. Documentation and Information Science. arts & humanities have been more important than science and drawn LIS closer to the humanities. Library Schools have traditionally mainly educated people for work in public libraries. 3 . Literature. This application have influenced the field both in the kinds of technical processes and systems used in public libraries and the kind of documents mediated by public libraries.Introduction LIS is a divided field in many ways. started as concerned with scientific and technological information systems.

you may find different contributions in LIS more or less relevant. Dependent of how you look at your own future work. As such it has somewhat conflicting views and interests in its inheritance. 4 . Such developments also challenge LIS as a field of research and study.Introduction LIS is a combination of library science and information science. or too narrow or specialized. Technological and other developments in society challenges both libraries and related institutions (even Encyclopedia Britannica!).

of course.Introduction My own research and teaching is. based on my view of our field. I have termed “domain analysis”. I do not believe that we can afford to disregard serious view on the basis and future of our field. The theoretical foundation that I am working from. researchers and practitioners to help advancing our field. including considering different theoretical foundations. 5 . We need seriously engaged students. its problems and possibilities.

Many high-quality information services. such as MEDLINE. I also believe that the library professions relation to subject knowledge is problematic.Subject knowledge I believe subject knowledge is important. The importance of subject knowledge can hardly be overestimated. employ subject specialists and computer specialists rather than people educated within LIS. 6 . that the importance of this has been suppressed and often replaced by superficial professional ideologies and theories.

In other words: LIS is a kind of metafield concerned with information seeking.or management specialists). 7 . What I am trying is to base LIS research and education on a more realist philosophy that acknowledge the importance of subject knowledge. -retrieval. knowledge organization etc.Subject knowledge What I am trying is NOT to replace LIS-professional with subject specialists (or computer. in different fields or domains of knowledge.

you cannot be competent within LIS by just studying “general information science”.Subject knowledge Subject knowledge and LIS-knowledge are not two independent forms of knowledge that can just be combined in an external way. Just as you cannot study Chinese medicine by studying “Chinese” and “medicine” and then combine your knowledge. And just as you cannot learn English and Danish by study general language theory. It is the other way round: The general theory is based on findings in specific domains. 8 .

cooperation patterns. language and communication forms. Knowledge organization. information needs. -structure. knowledge.Domain-analysis "The domain-analytic paradigm" is a theoretical approach to Information Science (IS). information systems and relevance criteria are reflections of the objects of the work of these communities and of their role in society. The individual person's psychology. (Hjørland & Albrechtsen. which are parts of the society's division of labor. which states. that the best way to understand information in IS is to study the knowledge-domains as "discourse communities". 1995) 9 . and subjective relevance criteria should be seen in this perspective".

10 . Information scientists may. in medicine? Medical training do not incorporate the study of medical documents and databases. is the difference between a LIS-professional and an ordinary subject specialist. study the relative usefulness of citation indexing compared to traditional MEDLINE indexing. for example.Domain-analysis What then.g. medical terminology. medical indexing and so on. e.

In 2002 I formulated the special competencies of LIS- professionals in 11 points: 11 . In other words: information specialist approach a domain in a top-down fashion. whereas domain specialists approach problems of information seeking and knowledge organization in a bottom-up fashion.Domain-analysis Information specialists may approach the domain from a general knowledge of databases and citation indexes and may explore their usefulness in a specific domain.

(3) Research on and competencies in indexing and retrieving information in specialities. (4) Knowledge about empirical user studies in subject areas. Domain-analysis (1) Producing and evaluating literature guides and subject gateways. (7) Studies of documents and genres in knowledge domains. 12 . (5) Producing and interpreting bibliometric studies. (6) Historical studies of information structures and services in domains. (2) Producing and evaluating special classifications and thesauri.

Domain-analysis (8) Epistemological and critical studies of different paradigms. knowledge representation in computer science and artificial 13 intelligence. LSP (languages for special purposes) and discourse analysis in knowledge fields. (10) Knowledge about and studies of structures and institutions in scientific and professional communication in a domain. assumptions and interests in domains. (9) Knowledge about terminological studies. (11) Knowledge about methods and results from domain analytic studies about professional cognition. .

Somebody would perhaps feel that this would make the education of information professionals too narrow.Domain-analysis First and foremost do I advocate the view that these 11 approaches should be seen as supplementary. if you already have a deep knowledge of the specific information problems in at least one domain. That the professional identity is best maintained if those methods are applied to the same examples (same domain). 14 . The counter-argument is that you can only understand and use these methods properly in a new domain.

15 . in music or children) and to work with such subjects also from a LIS-perspective. It is important to be able to understand by concrete examples. I always recommend student to try to keep an interest (e.g.Domain-analysis It is a dangerous illusion to believe that one becomes more competent to work in any field if one does not know anything about any domain.

2003).Domain-analysis The 11 points do not have the same status. documents. communication channels and institutions in a domain. 16 . (See Core Concepts in LIS or Fjordback Søndergaard. Basic in the domain analytic theory are two related approaches: a) The sociological approach: The study of knowledge producers. users and intermediaries. Andersen & Hjørland. My point of departure is the UNISIST model.

The flow of scientific and technical information (UNISIST 1971. (published) (Unpublished) PUBLISHERS EDITORS Letters to editors Preprints. Guides Referral Services. Quantified Surveys Special Bibliographies Transactions. etc. etc. Books Thesis PRIMARY Journals Reports SOURCES -selection -production -distribution ABSTRACTING & INDEXING SERVICES SECONDARY LIBRARIES SOURCES -Analysis & storage -dissemination INFORMATION DATA CENTERS CENTERS Abstract & Index Journals Catalogs. etc. 26) 17 . TERTIARY SERVICES -evolution -compression -consolidation USERS Figure 1. etc. Reviews Syntheses. PRODUCERS Information sources (informal) (tabular) (formal) Taiks-lectures Conferences. etc. p.

If you read papers such as Ørom (2003) you will see that the way a subject is classified in a classification system essentially reflects a view of that subject (say Arts). (See Epistemological Lifeboat). or fundamental views in the domain.Domain-analysis b) The epistemological approach: The “paradigms”. 18 .

for example. A place to start may be.Domain-analysis It is of course important that YOU become educated I a way. why they are the most cited. 19 . e.g. that makes it possible for you to do domain analysis in a domain of your choice. by using encyclopedias and other sources to study the domain thus combining qualitative and quantitative methods. to examine the most cited authors in a field and examine.

You may try to find other approaches than domain analysis. This is best done by an open debate about the strength and weaknesses of different theoretical positions. Ask questions! Demand answers! 20 .Domain-analysis It is also important that LIS is strengthened as a field of research of teaching. The important thing is that people in the field work together to strengthen the field. Epistemological Lifeboat: http://www. http://www.db. 30(3/4). An Epistemological Perspective. 144-169. Indexing of Musical Genres. References Abrahamsen.htm http://www.db. T. (2003).htm 21 . Core Concepts in Library and Information Knowledge

T. Andersen.nature.pdf Giles. (2003). s1. 438. Documents and the communication of scientific and scholarly information. http://www. Revising and updating the UNISIST model.html Supplementary information: http://www. B. J. Special Report: Internet encyclopaedias go head to head. (2005).com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a. & Hjørland.nature. 900-901.db.doc 22 .References Fjordback Søndergaard. 278-320.. Available: http://www. Nature. Journal of 59(3).

1-7. Eleven approaches .pdf or a shorter and up-dated version: Hjørland. ches. IN: Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science. Domain analysis in information science.References Hjørland. (Online for subscribers).db. 58(4). 23 . (2002).traditional as well as innovative. New York: Marcel Dekker. http://www. Journal of Documentation. (2004). 422-462. Pp. Domain analysis in information science. B.

B.References Hjørland. 24 . 46(6). Knowledge Organization. (2003). & Albrechtsen. H. Ontological. J. (1995). Journal of the American Society for Information Science. B. & Hartel. Epistemological and Sociological Dimensions of Domains. 400-425. 30(3/4). 239-245. Hjørland. Toward a New Horizon in Information Science: Domain-Analysis.

Ørom. S. (2005) The domain analytic approach to scholars' information practices. Medford. L. Erdelez. 128-143. 30(3/4).History. Fisher. (2003). A.References Talja. K. Knowledge Organization. 123-127). In: Theories of information behavior: A researcher's guide. Knowledge Organization in the domain of Art Studies . McKechnie. Ed. (Pp. S. Information Today. NJ. 25 . Transition and Conceptual Changes.