The Knowledge Production Project

Posted on January 29, 2018 by Tadween Editors | 0 comments

The Knowledge Production Project

by Mekarem Eljamal

At the 2016 Middle East Studies Association Conference, the Arab Studies Institute launched the Knowledge Production Project (KPP). Over the past year, we have improved the site’s functionality and user-experience. Located at http://www.knowledgeproduction.com, the KPP is a visual and searchable database of peer-reviewed articles, books, dissertations, websites, as well as films and television shows that have to do with the Middle East and North Africa since 1979. Just as knowledge production is not static, neither is this database; the Arab Studies Institute team is continuously updating the KPP.

Versatility is a major asset for scholars and students as they use the databases within the KPP. The KPP is divided into five interactive search and data visualizations: Trends, Sources, Connections, Think Tanks, and Production. The Production and Trend sections each have similar data, but vary in their visualization. Viewing the data through the Production tab provides the exact number of films, books, dissertations, etc. in a given year. When a specific production source is selected, users can view the first few titles included in the database that were published in the specified year. To expand the list, users are linked to the Trends category. Under the Trend heading, knowledge production on the region is depicted through a stacked area chart showing which years had spikes in knowledge production via television shows, think tank papers, peer reviewed articles, and more. To accommodate specific research interests, there is the option to narrow the visualization field. Users can refine their visualization terms and include or exclude certain knowledge sources in the graphic. Additionally, by selecting the “List View” view rather than “Graph View”, a full citation is provided for all the entries fitting the search query.

Moving to the next section, the Sources tab is a compilation of online knowledge sources produced in and on the region. The KPP team coded based on country or region and topical focus. This section conveniently uses a map as its visualization and users can hover over individual countries to see how many entries exist so far. Once clicked, a list of online knowledge sources for the selected country is generated and more information on each entry can be viewed.

The Connections section is a web of relationships between individual experts, various organizations, and think tanks. Navigating this network can be done in multiple ways. First is through the traditional search bar; by selecting expert, organization, or think tank the visualization is restructured and can then be perused as the user’s leisure. Alternatively, users can hover over different nodes and select each one to see the affiliates of the organization.

The final aspect of the KPP is the Think Tank Explorer. To find think tanks, users can search by the topical or regional focus. Hovering over a country or a topic will show the number of think tanks that focus on that region. At the bottom of the visualization for the Think Tank Explorer are more details about publications, revenues, and experts at each think tank. After selecting a specific think tank, users are presented with a profile of the organization, showcasing publications, affiliates, and links to the organization’s online presence.

Apart from the compendium of data organized in the KPP, the ability to save past searches makes this database all the more user-friendly. By creating an account, users can save individual articles found within a larger search and they can also save the entire search query. In addition to the visualizations of the KPP, the Arab Studies Institute made available the methodologies and caveats for the data. Such aspects make the KPP an exciting new research tool for scholars and students alike, creating a single space for users to find necessary data and information on the Middle East and North Africa.

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