Concept sorting

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A method of classifying concepts which are important within a given knowledge domain into concept clusters


Sorting techniques are a well-known method for capturing the way experts compare and order concepts. This can lead to the understanding of the knowledge about properties, tasks and relationships between concepts. A simple example is card sorting. Here the expert is given a number of cards each displaying the name of a concept. The expert has the task of repeatedly sorting the cards into piles such that the cards in each pile have something in common. Variants of this involve sorting objects or photographs rather than cards (used where simple textual descriptions are not easy to use). The facilitator gains insights by asking appropriate questions about the relationships between concepts. This method is highly effective in helping to harvest deep tacit knowledge.

Concept sorting usually is the first step when constructing knowledge maps, concepts maps or knowledge organization systems such as thesauri, taxonomies or ontologies. In subsequent steps, (hierarchical) relations between concepts and attributes of concepts may be established.

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