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Use Case Mapping Scholarly Debate

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William Waites, University of Edinburgh / Open Knowledge Foundation

Background and Current Practice

The Bibliographica project aims eventually to capture much richer relationships between works and authors than would normally be available in library data. For example a student taking a survey course about a particular field will typically have a syllabus (reading list) and some lectures. As a first step the reading list is managed using the system. Next, as the student goes through the material, relationships amongst the works emerge - such and such a work is a response to such and such another work. Or a rebuttal. Or claims to be a rebuttal but really isn't. Relationships amongst authors also emerge, these authors might be considered to be members of the same "school", they might disagree with this other author about a certain topic. All of this is generally learned by students in the course of early post-secondary education but this information is hardly ever written down in a structured way.


The eventual aim is to capture the evolution of thought and scholarly debate by reference to written works and other publications and their authors. We may visualise the spread of ideas across Europe during the Enlightment. We may gain insight into how the field of Cognitive Science evolved by making a diagram of the debates between Searle, Dennett et al. in the books they have published over the last 30 or 40 years.

Target Audience

Students, researchers

Use Case Scenario

Sam is reading the works of Searle and Dennett in order of publication - this is essentially a running argument spanning several decades. Sam starts to take some notes to keep track of what each is saying, which concepts they invent, how agreements and disagreements and resulting refinements are made. Later on Sam discovers that some of the ideas are related to earlier work by, e.g. Gödel and Wittgenstein and discovers that Bob has already made notes on these. When Sam is finished the research and begins work on their thesis, they make a diagram representing the evolution of the relevant ideas and who was involved and when, including Bob's work. Not only does this diagram make a very pretty poster to put up on the wall, it is useful to refer to when writing the Thesis.

Application of linked data for the given use case

The natural way to write down this type of information might be as a directed graph with labelled edges. Since it is concerned as well with the evolution of ideas this also might have some connection to the provenance XG.

Problems and Limitations

This type of work has been done many times in the form of prose text - there are countless books that give an overview of a particular field. There is little prior work to build on when it comes to doing this in a structured way.

Related Use Cases and Unanticipated Uses (optional)

The scenario above describes a particular case of using linked data.. However, by allowing this scenario to take place, the likely solution allows for other use cases. This section captures unanticipated uses of the same system apparent in the use case scenario.

Library Linked Data Dimensions / Topics

The dimensions and topics are used to organize the use cases. At the same time, they might help you to identify additional aspects currently not covered. If appropriate topics and/or dimensions are missing, please specify them here and annotate them by a “*”.

*these items are not in the initial list, suggestion for adding them