Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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Olívia Pestana

Last modified: 2018-06-19



The teaching and learning of the organization of information and knowledge is essential when training an information professional. But in order to be consensual, a clarification of the these concepts is necessary. In the studies developed in the field of Information Science, the options regarding the designations of curricular units/modules related to these subjects are not equal in most schools, and it is therefore necessary to explain our understanding of their meaning. The use of the two terms, information and knowledge, is due to the fact that they are often applied randomly, and there is no obvious distinction between their underlying meaning. On the other hand, there is a differentiation in the curricular plans, but it doesn't mean that they are not considered as important constituents of the learning process in Information Science. The exact distinction between the terms still needs to be deepened, as the authors Pando and Almeida (2015) acknowledge, because, as they say, the terminological analysis shows that there is still no clear pattern.

Therefore, we clarify that, in the basis of this study, there is the theoretical and practical teaching of the ways of processing the information with a view to its retrieval. It implies, therefore, a process of descriptive cataloging and subject indexing, i.e., the learning of the attribution of descriptive metadata and authority control access points.

Studies related to the teaching of the organization of information and knowledge are scarce and, in general, are related to the most targeted courses/modules for the technical treatment of bibliographic information. Nevertheless, these studies constitute a valuable contribution to the determination of the importance of the teaching of the mentioned subjects in the scope of Information Science (Joudrey & McGinnis, 2014; Hudon, 2010; Pattuelli 2010; Joudrey, 2008; Davis, 2008; Bowman, 2006; Ruiz-Perez & López-Cózar, 2006;  Taylor, 2004; Taylor & Joudrey, 2002).

Our choice in studying iSchools courses is due to the growing expansion of this network of university schools in the area of information, and is currently expanding to the Asian, European and North American continents. Despite the existing differences between the structures of the iSchools, the courses offered and the type of training provided at these schools, there is a common standpoint, which is the interest in the relations between information, people and technologies.


In order to formulate a common teaching strategy, exploring the European space of Information Science studies, this paper presents the results of a research related to the teaching practiced in the European iSchools of the foundations and methods for information and knowledge organization. The study included undergraduate and graduate (Master) courses for the following indicators: course designation, modules designations, contents (when available), fundamentals and methods approaches, recommended bibliography, teaching methods, student assessment components and the statute of the module: compulsory or elective.

The data were collected and / or confirmed in September 2017 in order to show an updated picture of the training offer. It was found that several courses had suffered some changes in the structure of their curriculum, as well as in the offer of curricular units/modules. This was due, in part, to the restructuring of schools / colleges where teaching is taught and also to the merger with other courses, with a view to broadening the scientific areas of ​​the courses.

The websites of the 25 schools mentioned in the European directory of iSchools were consulted. It was verified that most of the undergraduate courses are taught in the country's official language and the contents of curricula and modules are not available in English. On the other hand, undergraduate study cycles are going through reorganization of their study plans in order to provide wider education opportunities and to allow several options in connection with master degrees. Nevertheless, data available English or Spanish were collected. Master degrees information is mostly available in English and international exchange of students is allowed in many courses.

When comparing the available information, it is verified that the approach of the subjects of information and knowledge organization is similar, although there are different distribution and different designations of the corresponding modules, i.e., some of the courses offer several modules dedicated to this subject. The curricular structure of the courses which offer these subjects is also similar, in other words, it has an education offer in the field of Information Science and it is not close to Computer Science or Management. Teaching methods and assessment components are identical in all schools and the basic bibliography is common, but each school mentions some titles in the country's official language. The modules associated with information and knowledge organization are compulsory.


Although the limited training in English of undergraduate degrees, it was possible to explore a common framework of training in information and knowledge organization. This common framework could allow the establishment of synergies between the targeted schools with a view to presenting a common or complementary training offer through online seminars or workshops, that could stimulate contact between students. The sharing of resources and teaching components, such as the provision of educational materials, can be enhanced, allowing a closer contact between pedagogical practices and the eventual creation of collaborative research projects.

As a limitation of this study we point out the data collection and interpretation based on the information available in English or Spanish in the courses websites. Some important information regarding the courses of other schools would be relevant for the establishment of a common strategy for teaching knowledge organization.


Bowman, J. H. (2006). Education and Training for Cataloguing and Classification in the British Isles. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 41:3-4, 309-333.

Davis, Jane M. (2008). A Survey of Cataloging Education: Are Library Schools Listening? Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 46:2, 182-200, DOI: 10.1080/01639370802177604

Hudon, Michèle (2010). Teaching Classification, 1990–2010. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 48:1, 64-82, DOI: 10.1080/01639370903356370

Joudrey, Daniel N. (2008). Another Look at Graduate Education for Cataloging and the Organization of Information. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 46:2, 137-181 DOI: 10.1080/01639370802177588.

Joudrey, Daniel N. & McGinnis, Ryan (2014). Graduate Education for Information Organization, Cataloging, and Metadata, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 52:5, 506-550 DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2014.911236

Pando, Daniel Abraão  & Almeida, Carlos Cândido de (2015).  Organização da informação e do conhecimento no contexto da Ciência da informação: da análise terminológica à reflexão epistemológica. In II Congreso ISKO España-Portugal / XII Congreso ISKO España (2015). Organización del conocimiento: sistemas de información abiertos. Actas. Murcia : Facultad de Comunicación y Documentación. Universidad de Murcia. ISBN ISBN: 978-84-608-3558-5. Disponível em: http://www.iskoiberico.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/54_Pando.pdf

Pattuelli, M. Cristina (2010). Knowledge Organization Landscape: A Content Analysis of Introductory Courses. Journal of Information Science. XX (X) 2010, pp. 1–14, DOI: 10.1177/016555150nnnnnnn.

Ruiz-Perez, Rafael & López-Cózar, Emilio Delgado (2006). Education for Cataloging in Spanish Universities: A Descriptive and Critical Study. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 41:3-4, 291-307.

Taylor, Arlene G. (2004). Teaching Authority Control. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 38:3-4, 43-57, DOI: 10.1300/J104v38n03_05

Taylor, Arlene G. & Joudrey, Daniel N. (2002). On Teaching Subject Cataloging. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 34:1-2, 221-230, DOI: 10.1300/J104v34n01_13