Taxonomic Work as Information Work: Design for Semantic Refactoring

Andrea K. Thomer, Michael Twidale, Jinlong Guo, Matthew Jon Yoder

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Taxonomy is the branch of science concerned with classi- fying organisms: drawing the line between cats and dogs, fish and fowl, animals and vegetables. Modern taxonomic work is built on a hundreds-year-old tradition of qualitative research and description. There are aspects of this work that illustrate the pervasiveness and difficulty of a particular kind of qualitative data wrangling, which we call semantic refactoring: the review, normalization, and re-engineering of semantic structures. Because taxonomic work is con- ducted over long time spans, the processes underlying se- mantic refactoring become more visible. An examination of taxonomic data practices may inform our understanding of how (and if) collections of qualitative data scale, particularly when collaboratively created.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2016
Event2016 Workshop on Human-Centered Data Science - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Feb 27 2016Mar 2 2016


Conference2016 Workshop on Human-Centered Data Science
Abbreviated titleCSCW ’16
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • Scientific workflows
  • classification
  • ontologies
  • qualitative data
  • biodiversity informatics
  • human-information interaction
  • taxonomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Taxonomic Work as Information Work: Design for Semantic Refactoring'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this