My knowledge organization projects are currently focused on:

  • Ontology to support data curation of social science statistical data
  • Ontologies to support text summarization of research papers
  • Taxonomies and ontologies for digital heritage portals
  • Typology of organizational stories
  • Types of friends on Facebook

Other projects I’ve worked on in the past, and hope to revisit in the future!

  • Organisation of computer files on the harddisk in the workplace
  • Organisation of learning objects in a repository of learning objects
  • Organisation of corporate websites
  • Subject taxonomies in different genres: book table of contents, web directory, websites, etc.

Project descriptions below:

Project: Ontology to support data curation of social science statistical data

Many social science datasets are now available for public access in research data repositories (e.g., ICPSR), government data repositories (e.g., and, and many university data repositories. Such data repositories are meant to promote data reuse, data integration and big data applications. However, it is difficult for human users (let alone computer applications) to find appropriate datasets, understand them, integrate them and prepare them for data mining. An ontology of concepts and data elements in social science datasets as well as a metadata application profile for describing the datasets are being developed. A graph database application (using Neo4j) will be developed to store the ontology and metadata records and to support graph mining. A visualization tool (Cytoscape) will be used to visualize the ontology and metadata information to support users in exploring, understanding and integration the datasets.

Project: Taxonomies and ontologies for digital heritage portals

Many memory institutions have set up online portals to provide public access to their heritage collections. However, little is known about how such portal interfaces should be designed and the content organized to support user browsing and learning. Many online cultural heritage portals adopt an organization scheme that is either content-oriented or institution-oriented rather than one that is user-oriented.

Few heritage portals provide a browse structure for users to explore heritage content. Users are expected to think of specific topics and keywords to search. A limited kind of browse structure is often provided in the form of an alphabetic list of “collections.” There is no bird’s eye view of what the heritage portal contains.

The portals also do not support users in learning and synthesizing an understanding of a heritage topic. They do not indicate what aspects or attributes of a heritage topic is covered in the portal content/resources, and relationships to other topics.

We are planning the following studies:

  1. A content analysis of the Singapore Memory Portal and Archives Online to identify the heritage topics and basic-level concepts addressed by the resources.
  2. A questionnaire survey of what topics and subtopics users expect in the portals, to validate the top-level of the taxonomy and to flesh out the lower levels.
  3. An in-depth qualitative study of how users learn from the resources and synthesize their understanding. Users can be asked to outline an essay on a heritage topic. An ontology can be derived from this study.
  4. Implementation of the taxonomy and ontology as a faceted browse interface and a set of mindmaps for each major topic, and a user study of how effective the interface is in supporting browsing and learning.

The study makes a few assumptions about learning:

  • Learning about a topic involves synthesizing information into a coherent understanding and linking together related concepts (i.e. aspects and attributes of the topic, and relations to other topics). This coherent understanding can be represented as an ontology—a set of concepts linked with conceptual relations.
  • In the course of reading the memory postings, users will identify salient, important or interesting aspects/attributes about a topic, as a first step in synthesizing a coherent understanding.
  • Users already have some prior knowledge of a topic as well as opinion about the important aspects and attributes of a topic. This prior knowledge guides searching and browsing, and provides an initial template structure for synthesizing an understanding. Some of the associated aspects/attributes may be tacit—something the user can recognize but might not remember in free recall. So the system can support the user’s learning by providing a taxonomy or mind map to guide the user in browsing and making sense of the topic and memories.

This project is studying 2 cultural heritage portals:

  • Singapore Memory Portal that was set up in Singapore to collect people’s memories related to the history, culture, society, life and landscape of Singapore’s past.
  • Archives Online — the National Archives of Singapore portal.

Recent papers:

  • Khoo, C.S.G., Ta, M.T., Win, K.P., & Thi, C.S.S. (2016). Visualization of heritage content in the Singapore Memory Portal to support user learning. In Proceedings of the 7th Asia-Pacific Conference on Library & Information Education & Practice (A-LIEP 2016) (pp. 230-236). Nanjing, China: School of Information Management, Nanjing University. [PDF]
  • Khoo, C.S.G., Teng, T.B.R., Ng, H.C., & Wong, K.P. (2014). Developing a taxonomy to support user browsing and learning in a digital heritage portal with crowd-sourced content. In W. Babik (Ed.), Proceedings of the 13th International ISKO Conference, 19-22 May 2014, Krakow, Poland (pp. 266-273). Wurzburg: Ergon Verlag. [PDF]
  • Srieedar, J., & Khoo, C.S.G. (2013). A user study of the Singapore Memory Portal to derive a taxonomy for content organization. In Proceedings of the 2013 Digital Heritage International Congress, 28 Oct-1 Nov 2013, Marseille, France (IEEE catalog no. CFP1308W-USB, pp. 297-305). [PDF]

Project: A typology of organizational stories

Storytelling is an important tool in knowledge management for propagating organizational culture and values, communicating experience and lessons, and stimulating action and organizational change.

We propose a framework for analyzing and assessing organizational stories, with two main parts:

  1. The Story Framework—the main elements of the story and its content, and the organizational context in which the story is told.
  2. The Interaction/Communication Framework—the interaction between the storyteller and listener(s), and the transmission of knowledge.

We divide the characteristics of a story into six elements:

  1. Background to the story—the context in the story itself, including the prior situation and events leading up to the story.
  2. Core of the story—the essence or summary of the story, or the story in its shortest and simplest form.
  3. Structure of story—how the story is structured in terms of context, build up, climax, action, reversal, resolution and learning.
  4. Type of story—the story is classified under a category in a typology.
  5. Knowledge embodied in the story—the message or knowledge conveyed, or the moral of the story.
  6. Function of the story—the purpose for which the story is told.

Underlying these six elements is the Organizational Context in which the story is told. Based on the story framework’s six elements, a story analysis instrument was constructed. For each element, there is a series of questions to be answered by the analyst.

Table 1. The organisational story analysis instrument

1. Background to the story (Answer the following questions)

  • Organizational background: What is the type/industry/size of company?
  • Event trigger: What happened to trigger the event
  • Internal or external: Is the story targeted towards internal employees or external stakeholders?)
  • Intention of the teller: What is the storyteller trying to convey? Why is he telling this story?
  • First person or third person: Is the story told from a first person or third person perspective?
2. Core of the story (Answer the following questions)

  • A summary of the story in its simplest form – the essence of the story
  • Actors: Who are involved in the story?
  • Time: When did the story occur?
  • Location: Where did the events take place?
  • Event: What happened in the story?)
  • Sequence: How did events in the story unfold?
  • Cause: Why did the events happen?
3. Structure (sections) of the story (Answer the following questions)

  • Context – In what situation did the story take place?
  • Build up – What happened to lead up to the climax?
  • Climax – What was the high point of the story?
  • Action – What did the characters in the story do?
  • Reversal – How did the situation change for the better or worse?
  • Resolution – How was the situation resolved?
  • Learning – What is the learning point of the story?
4. Type of story (Select one or more categories)

  • Who I am story (helps the audience to perceive the storyteller in the light that the storyteller wants to be perceived.)
  • Why I am here story (supplies credible reasons for the storyteller’s positive motives.)
  • Vision story (explains what the audience can get out of the storyteller’s agenda and why they should allow his lead.)
  • Values in action story (supplies instances to encourage internalization of desired values)
  • Hero story (portrays organizational members who have displayed exemplary conduct and achieved exceptional performance.)
  • Survivor story (regale listeners with how organizational members turn round a disastrous situation and set things back to normal.)
  • Aren’t we great story (showcase organizational achievements)
  • Kick in the pants story (is used to provide early warning of potential disaster.)
5. Knowledge embodied in the story (Select one or more categories)

  • Values (The attitudes the organization wants its employees to emulate and internalize)
  • Behaviors (The ways in which the organization wants its employees to act)
  • Norms (Social rules and standards of the organization)
  • Experiences (Encounters in the past)
  • History (The facts of the past)
6. Function (purpose/value) of the story (Select one or more categories)

  • Spark organizational change
  • Build trust
  • Get individuals to work together
  • Transmit values
  • Tame the grapevine
  • Share knowledge
  • Create a future

Recent paper:

  • Lee, L.-P., Liu, H.-W., Shi, D.-M., Khoo, C.S.G., & Pang, N. (2014). Developing a framework for analyzing organizational stories. LIBRES, 24(1), 34-49. (Available at:

Studies of ontology design

I have used ontologies to represent knowledge for particular domains and applications:

  • Ontology to represent the knowledge base of a clinical decision support system [PDF]
  • Ontology to represent disease-treatment information found in abstracts of medical articles [PDF]
  • Ontology to represent the research objectives of social science research [PDF1, PDF2]