Describing engineering documents with faceted approaches: Observations and reflections

P J Wild, Matthew Giess, Christopher A McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to highlight the difficulty of applying faceted classification outside of library contexts and also to indicate that faceted approaches are poorly expressed to non-experts. Design/methodology/approach - The faceted approach is being applied outside of its "home" community, with mixed results. The approach is based in part on examination of a broad base of literature and in part on results and reflections on a case study applying faceted notions to "real world" engineering documentation. Findings - The paper comes across a number of pragmatic and theoretical issues namely: differing interpretations of the facet notion: confusion between faceted analysis and faceted classification: lack of methodological guidance; the use of simplistic domains as exemplars: description verses analysis: facet recognition is unproblematic; and is the process purely top-down or bottom-up. Research limitations/implications - That facet analysis is not inherently associated with a particular epistemology; that greater guidance about the derivation is needed, that greater realism is needed when teaching faceted approaches. Practical implications - Experiences of applying faceted classifications are presented that can be drawn upon to guide future work in the area. Originality/value - No previous work has reflected oil the actual empirical experience used to create a faceted description, especially with reference to engineering documents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-445
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Archiving
  • Classification
  • Information science


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