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What is Taxonomy?

By   /  October 15, 2017  /  No Comments

taxonomyTaxonomy represents the formal structure of classes or types of objects within a domain. It organizes knowledge by using a controlled vocabulary to make it easier to find related information. A Taxonomy must:

  • Follow a hierarchic format and provides names for each object in relation to other objects.
  • May also capture the membership properties of each object in relation to other objects.
  • Have specific rules used to classify or categorize any object in a domain. These rules must be complete, consistent, and unambiguous.
  • Apply rigor in specification, ensuring any newly discovered object must fit into one and only one category or object.
  • Inherit all the properties of the class above it, but can also have additional properties.

Other definitions of Taxonomy include:

  • “Taxonomy is a set of chosen terms use to retrieve on-line content – to make the search and browse capabilities of the content, document or records management systems truly functional.” (Computer Weekly)
  • “Taxonomy is a Knowledge Organization System (KOS) or a set of elements, often structured and controlled, which can be used for describing (indexing) objects, browsing collections etc.” (W3C org)
  • “Taxonomy is a classification of products.” (Forbes)
  • “Taxonomy is a curated classification and nomenclature for all of the organisms in the public sequence database.” (NCBI)

Businesses apply Taxonomies to:

  • Achieve better Data Quality.
  • Organize Metadata in an easy grasp format (e.g. a Website map).
  • Manage data assets through Data Governance.
  • Make it easier for a Data Steward to curate information.
  • Guide Machine Learning and Data Experiences towards identifying trends and patterns.

Finding a book or document in a library or a specific website in a browser like Google, requires taxonomies, as does using a thesaurus.

While Taxonomies may differ across domains or Ontologies, they remain consistent in a specific representation (e.g. a business, department, or subject area):

Example of a Taxonomy:


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About the author

Michelle Knight enjoys putting her information specialist background to use by writing technical articles on enhancing Data Quality, lending to useful information. Michelle has written articles on W3C validator for SiteProNews, SEO competitive analysis for the SLA (Special Libraries Association), Search Engine alternatives to Google, for the Business Information Alert, and Introductions on the Semantic Web, HTML 5, and Agile, Seabourne INC LLC, through AboutUs.com. She has worked as a software tester, a researcher, and a librarian. She has over five years of experience, contracting as a quality assurance engineer at a variety of organizations including Intel, Cigna, and Umpqua Bank. During that time Michelle used HTML, XML, and SQL to verify software behavior through databases Michelle graduated, from Simmons College, with a Masters in Library and Information with an Outstanding Information Science Student Award from the ASIST (The American Society for Information Science and Technology) and has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Smith College. Michelle has a talent for digging into data, a natural eye for detail, and an abounding curiosity about finding and using data effectively.

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