Knowledge map

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A map of a selected knowledge domain.


A knowledge map is a tool which presents a selected knowledge domain and the connections within it in a graphical form. Knowledge maps can take several forms, e.g. concept map or process map. They can also be created for different purposes including a map of the knowledge of one person or a map of knowledge assets of a whole organisation.



Knowledge map is a symbolic representation of a selected knowledge domain and the output of knowledge mapping. The form of knowledge maps may vary including concept maps and process maps. The components of knowledge maps usually include the so-called background which is the context where the map is produced, the elements of the maps and the relationships between the elements. The last of which is the essential feature of a knowledge map compared to other ways of documenting knowledge, e.g. lists. An example of a knowledge map is provided in Fig 1.

Fig. 1. Example of a knowledge map

Types of knowledge maps

The literature review of Eppler [1] provides several possible categorisations for knowledge maps:

  • Knowledge process: Knowledge maps can be used as tools for knowledge processes, e.g. identification, learning, sharing and storage.
  • Knowledge domain: Knowledge map always concerns itself with a knowledge domain, e.g. strategy, maintenance, waste management.
  • Content of the map: The elements of maps may be for example ideas, people (network map), documents, data, learning objectives
  • Users: Some knowledge maps might be just for personal use and some for use of a whole organisation.
  • Form of the map: The form of a knowledge map may e.g. a table, concept map, process map, hierarchical list.
  • The way of creating the map: Maps may be produced automatically, by a group work, edited iteratively etc.

Benefits of knowledge maps

For nuclear organizations, there are several benefits of using knowledge maps, including

  • Knowledge map can be used as a summary of the organozation's knowledge assets. It provides better overview and a more efficient and memorable representation and communication of knowledge assets.
  • As knowledge maps include structure in form of links between the elements of the map, they help in understanding the structure of knowledge assets.
  • Knowledge maps may indicate the location of the knowledge assets in an organization, provide faster access, and improve finding the relevant knowledge. Often the amount of knowledge in an organization is over the limit for a person to handle. In addition to search engines, knowledge maps can be a good way of retrieving knowledge in a logical way.
  • As the representation of knowledge in knowledge maps can be made logical, they may help in judging the quality and maturity of knowledge assets and in understanding how to develop knowledge assets.
  • Knowledge maps can be used for representing implicit knowledge and locating tacit knowledge. With the overview picture of knowledge assets in an organization, it is more likely to discover tacit knowledge.
  • Knowledge maps improve learning both of the organization and individuals. Organization learns via increased understanding of its knowledge assets and better evaluation of them. Individuals learn both via using the maps and via creating them, and the maps may prove to be useful e.g. for the newcomers in the job induction process.

Creating a knowledge map

Creating a knowledge map is described in this article


[1] Eppler M., A Process-Based Classification of Knowledge Maps and Application Examples, Knowledge and Process Management, Volume 15 Number 1 pp 59–71 (2008),

Other potentially useful literature

[2] Ermine J.L., Boughzala I and Tounkara T., Critical Knowledge Map as a Decision Tool for Knowledge Transfer Actions, "Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management 4, 2 (2006) 129-140,

[3] Balaid, Zibarzani, Rozan, A Comprehensive Review of Knowledge Mapping Techniques, JOURNAL OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND INNOVATION,

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Knowledge mapping

Concept map

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Process map