and Controlled Vocabularies
Self-Paced Online Course for Individuals or Corporate Groups
Five self-paced lessons, available at any time (no live component)
Course Description and Outline
Costs and Registration
Taxonomies are structured sets of terms used for tagging or categorizing
content. They are used in a wide variety of applications ranging from
document indexing, digital asset management, enterprise content management,
commercial product categorization, online news service interfaces, and
web site information architecture.
This course provides both a basic introduction to taxonomies, discusses
best practices for creating terms and relationships, and provides some
practice to start working on taxonomies and thesauri. This course also
includes exclusive student trial access to some taxonomy management systems.
Lesson 1: Introduction to taxonomies
Types of taxonomies and controlled vocabularies, their definitions, and
uses. Links to examples on the Web will be included for various types.
- Definitions of taxonomy, controlled vocabularies, thesauri, etc.
- Types and applications of taxonomies and controlled vocabularies
- Controlled vocabulary structure, hierarchies, and facets
Lesson 2: Wording of terms and their variants
Deciding how to name preferred terms and non-preferred terms in the controlled
- Wording of terms: style and format, choosing the preferred term, and dealing with homonyms
- Variant names for concepts: synonyms, nonpreferred terms, alternative labels, etc.
- Other term-creation issues: pre-coordination and post-coordinating, term notes and attributes, and term categories.
Lesson 3: Hierarchical structure and term
Best practices for structuring a taxonomy or thesaurus according
to recognized standards
- Broader/narrower relationships
- Related-term relationships
- Semantic variations of relationships
- Creating hierarchies
Lesson 4: Software for creating taxonomies
An overview of the various software tools to help create develop and edits taxnomies and thesauri. Students
are encouraged to try out a free trial of at least one of these software tools. If students already have a taxonomy
management tool, instructor feedback can be provided on some term entry examples.
- Overview of thesaurus software
- Smartlogic Semaphore
- Data Harmony Thesaurus Master
- Other thesaurus software
Lesson 5: Concluding topics and issues
- Processes for taxonomy development and implementation
- Taxonomy maintenance and governance
- Folksonomies or social tagging
Duration: This course was designed to take a month, but it can be
completed in slightly more or less time, as desired. The maximum length of time with instructor feedback is two months.
Lessons: Lesson texts are comprised of a set of three
to six web pages, one for each chapter of the lesson. Each lesson has
links, and some have associated graphics of screenshots. It is not necessary
to go through an entire lesson at one sitting, but each chapter page is
designed to be read at one sitting. The lessons and chapters vary in length,
depending on the topic. The intended pace is one lesson per week, but
you may proceed faster or slower.
Exercises/Assignments: Most lessons have assignments.
Although you are not required to submit the assignments, you are welcome
to submit them as e-mail attachments to the instructor for feedback.
You may modify to content of some of the exercises to reflect examples in your own work.
Questions to the instructor are welcome at any time.
Discussion: With a group of three or more, a shared
e-mail mailing list can be used for discussion and questions of common
interest will be answered by the instructor to the group.
Software: Special software does not need to be purchased
to complete the workshop, but students should try a free demo version
of one or more of the software tools discussed in Lesson 4. Two require downloading,
and two are completely web-based with no download rquired.
Readings: The required reading is: ANSI/NISO Z39.19
Guidelines for Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual
Controlled Vocabularies, which is provided as a freely
Also, highly recommended is the book: Hedden, Heather (2016) The Accidental Taxonomist, 2nd edition
Links to additional articles on the Web are provided within each lesson.
Hours Expected: The number of hours put in depends on
the extent that you work on a taxonomy project of your own and how much
optional reading you want to do. Past students have put in from 2 to 8
hours per lesson, with 5 hours per lesson being the average.
Costs and Registration
Registration costs are as follows:
Course administration fee: $75 total for any number of participants from the same organization taking the course at the same time.
Participant fee: $195 per participant.
This comes to $270 for an individual, but it is a lower rate per individual for groups of two or more simultaneous students from the same organization.
Please complete the appropriate online registration form, which will automatically notify Heather Hedden of your registration.
Full pre-payment is required. Payment is accepted by credit card (via PayPal), PayPal direct, or by mailed check.
Additionally, electronic funds transfer is accepted from U.S. government agencies and government contractors.
Less of a commitment than a college continuing education course
The continuing education workshop I offered through Simmons College was set at 5 weeks
with files available for another 2 weeks. Inevitably, every session there were students who
could not finish the course in that time due to various unforeseen circumstances. This
independent self-paced version of the online workshop has the same amount of content but
remains available online to students and permits instructor access for questions for two months (9 weeks).
Always available to start any time
The continuing education workshop I offered through Simmons College was offered
only a certain number of times per year and students had to register 2-3 months in advance
before the session filled up. Sometimes people need to learn taxonomy development skills
on shorter notice or at a time when a college course is not being offered. This independent
self-paced online course is always available, and participants can start as soon as they
register, even the next day.
Individualized feedback and answers to questions
In contrast to a group course, where students feel they should ask questions only of common
interest to the other students, in this individualized course, it's acceptable to ask more
specific-case questions, to a reasonable degree.
For further questions, Heather Hedden.