Department of Computer & Information Sciences
The learning outcomes (LOs) for this module are:
• LO1. Have a critical understanding of the concepts of information organization, information
seeking and information retrieval interactions.
• LO2. Have a comprehensive knowledge of how to identify, analyse and critically evaluate
theories, conceptual frameworks, and applications for the organisation of information of
different forms, formats and contexts.
• LO3: Have a comprehensive knowledge of how to identify, analyse and critically evaluate
theories, conceptual frameworks and models for interactive information seeking and
• LO4. You will develop comprehensive and demonstrable skills and capabilities required for
effective organisation and retrieval of networked information resources relevant for specific
clients and contexts.
Module Title: Information Organisation & Access
Module Code: KC7020
Academic Year / Semester: 2021-22 / Semester 1
% Weighting (to overall module): 60%
Assessment Title: Information organisation and access in an applied
Date of Handout to Students: Week commencing 8th November 2021
Mechanism for Handout: Module Blackboard site and lecture in week 8
Deadline for Attempt Submission by
Students: Thursday 13th January 2022 11.59pm GMT
Mechanism for Submission: Document upload to Module Blackboard Site
Submission Format / Word Count
Please upload your written report as a single PDF
document. Your report should not exceed 3,000 words
in length (excluding title page, table of contents,
reference list, bibliography, and appendices; please
note, citations and headings in the main body are
included in the word count).
Date by which Work, Feedback and Marks
will be returned: Friday 11th February 2022
Mechanism for return of Feedback and
Marks and individual written feedback will be available
via Blackboard. For further queries please email the
• LO5. Understand and critically apply the principles of information organisation, storage, and
retrieval with respect to professional, legal, and ethical issues.
This assessment addresses learning outcomes LO1 and LO5 in part and, LO2 and LO3 in full.
For this assignment, you will profile the information requirements of an organisation. Choosing from
a range of scenarios that are provided below, you will first develop a means of classifying the data
and information currently held within the organisation. Secondly, you will analyse how the
organisation may best approach the development of an intranet-based search system to provide
employees with effective and efficient access to the information and knowledge held by the
organisation. The discussion and arguments within both sections should be informed by relevant
literature produced through research and practice.
This is an individual assignment and must be completed without collusion with others, in accordance
with University regulations (see below for details).
You have been appointed to study one of the organisations listed below (please see the appendix for
full details of each organisation and their requirements). All of the organisations are information-rich
but are struggling to effectively organise and provide access to this information.
• The Golden Age Museum and Archive (GAMA): a local museum dedicated to memorabilia
and records from the UK TV and film industries.
• Level Up North-East: a local charity helping jobseekers acquire new skills and employment
• Excite Digital: a software development firm providing point-of-sale software solutions.
All three scenarios present distinct individual challenges, but all three have several common
requirements that must be fulfilled. The data and information held by each organisation must be
collected and classified, and where appropriate, tagged, to ensure rapid that rapid access is
achievable. A system must also be proposed that will allow this data and information to be retrieved
by those that require access. The way in which they intend to facilitate effective access to this
information is through an internal intranet, but prior to this being established, it is essential that a
robust classification system be established.
Please note that the design of the user experience when interacting with the system is beyond the
scope of this assignment.
In this task, you must:
• Identify the information needs of the organisation (i.e., what information is held, who
requires access to this information, etc). The system is to be constructed in a way that
enables the delivery of the right information to the right people at the right time and, in the
• Propose a method to be used for the classification of the information, with appropriate
• Identify a suitable method to be used to allow for information to be retrieved by users,
supported with a full justification for your proposal.
• Describe, in general terms, how this Information Retrieval (IR) system could best be
implemented (note, you do not need to provide full technical details for the implementation
of this system). This should include an exploration of how the system would be effective,
efficient, and how this could be demonstrated.
Remember that even when using the information found in the appendix, at this point you do not
have all the exact details about the organisations. In your work, therefore, you will need to make
educated guesses and informed generalisations when proposing your solutions, which could be
refined at a later date, in the event of the proposals being chosen for implementation. There is no
requirement for technical specifications or full implementation roadmaps to be produced.
Please note: The organisations used within the case studies are entirely
fictional. Please do not use online resources to find information on real-world
organisations to support your work, even if the name of the organisation is
shared with, or similar to, those in the scenarios.
Assessment Criteria (AC) and Mark Allocation (Weighting %)
• AC1: Demonstrate an ability to evaluate the problems faced by the chosen organisation and
identify a suitable means of solving the information issues of this organisation (20%).
• AC2: Demonstrate an ability to devise appropriate classification strategies, drawing upon the
available literature and existing taxonomies where appropriate (25%).
• AC3: Ability to identify sensible and logical solutions to information retrieval problems,
appropriate for the organisation and its needs (20%).
• AC4: Demonstrate an ability to propose a means of evaluating the success of the chosen
approach to information retrieval (10%).
• AC5: Depth of analysis and synthesis of theoretical literature to support your work (15%).
• AC6: Clarity of written work submitted, including structure, layout, individual expression,
referencing thoroughness and accuracy in acknowledgment of sources (10%).
The following criteria must be adhered to in order for the assignment to have fulfilled the
• A word limit of 3000 words has been specified for the report and must be observed.
• If the assignment is within +10% (i.e., up to 300 words) of the stated word limit no
penalty will be applied.
• The word count is to be declared on the front page of your assignment and the
assignment cover sheet.
• The word count does not include title page, table of contents, reference list,
bibliography, and appendices. Please note, in text citations [e.g. (Smith, 2011)] and
direct secondary quotations [e.g., “dib-dab nonsense analysis” (Smith, 2011 p.123)] are
included in the word count. The full Word Limit Policy is available here.
• Students must retain an electronic copy of this assessment (including ALL components and
appendices) and it must be made available on request.
• Referencing should be in the Harvard style (see Cite Them Right –
http://www.citethemrightonline.com – please note, you will need your University Student ID
and password to access this resource).
You are advised to read the guidance for students regarding assessment policies. They are available
online here. (http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/university-services/academic-registry/qualityand-teaching-excellence/assessment/guidance-for-students/)
Late submission of work
Where coursework is submitted without approval, after the published hand-in deadline, the
following penalties will apply.
• For coursework submitted up to 1 working day (24 hours) after the published hand-in
deadline without approval, 10% of the total marks available for the assessment (i.e., 100%)
shall be deducted from the assessment mark.
• Coursework submitted more than 1 working day (24 hours) after the published hand-in
deadline without approval will be regarded as not having been completed. A mark of zero
will be awarded for the assessment and the module will be failed, irrespective of the overall
The full policy can be found here.
In all assessed work you should take care to ensure that the work you submit is your own. The
University takes academic dishonesty and cheating very seriously, and it is your responsibility to
ensure that you don’t attempt to cheat or become victim to cheating.
There are many different forms of academic misconduct or ‘cheating’. Plagiarism is the most
common and both the University library and your academic tutors are able to provide further
guidance on proper citation and referencing in your assessed work.
• The full Academic Misconduct Policy is available here.
• Useful guidance for avoiding academic misconduct can be found here.
Remember, this is an individual assessment and should be entirely your own work. Where you have
used someone else’s words (quotations), they should be correctly quoted and referenced in
accordance with the Harvard system (see Cite Them Right – http://www.citethemrightonline.com –
please note, you will need your University Student ID and password to access this resource).
Opportunities for Feedback
Formative feedback will be provided in class or on request. Summative feedback will be provided no
more than 20 working days after submission of the assignment.
General Guidance for Assessment Criteria
Generic overview of final mark
70% and over: a mark of over 70% is indicative of excellent work where the student has more than
met the requirements of the assessment brief and demonstrated a high level of understanding
appropriate to level 7. All assessment outcomes have been met and evidence is provided of a high
degree of original thought, independent learning and ability to critically analyse to high level.
60-69%: this mark means that the work is competent and completed to a good standard. The
requirements of the assessment brief have been met to a high standard but with room for a few
minor areas of improvement. Marks at the lower end in this band suggest that students have met all
or most of the requirements of the assessment brief but there are a larger number of minor areas
50-59%: marks within this band indicate a threshold pass, where the work has met the assessment
requirements to a satisfactory standard, but where there is still significant scope for improvement.
The work will have covered most of the key assessment criteria, but these might be at a more
superficial level compared with work in the higher mark ranges, with evidence of a less complete
understanding of the subject area. The work may indicate that less independent learning has been
performed or that less satisfactory outcomes have been achieved.
40 – 49%: this is a fail mark, where learning outcomes may not all have been met to a satisfactory
standard and where there may be a range of omissions, poor communication and/or possibly a lack
of knowledge derived from wider reading. Work in this mark range indicates insufficient evidence of
an understanding of the subject area appropriate to level 7, and/or that insufficient attention has
been given to the assessment brief.
Below 40%: this is a fail mark, indicating a piece of work which is below the acceptable standard,
and which provides little evidence of the skills, understanding or knowledge appropriate to level 7.
There may be many errors and omissions, and few or no of the learning outcomes have been met,
with an inadequate demonstration of the student understanding the subject area and/or the ability
to provide an adequate critical analysis of their personal development. Instructions may not have
been followed or assessment criteria may have been missed out.
0%: usually this mark suggests non-submission of work or proven evidence of academic misconduct.
The descriptions of each organisation, their requirements and the key challenges faced by each are
Scenario A: The Golden Age Museum and Archive (GAMA)
The Golden Age Museum and Archive (GAMA) is an independently run collection of movie and
television artefacts and memorabilia assembled from the UK entertainment industry, with a physical
location just outside of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the North-East of England. The intention behind the
museum is twofold: firstly, to act as a tourist attraction, able to entertain and inform the general
public. Display pieces are a diverse mix, ranging from props and costumes to excerpts of original
manuscripts and photos taken during the filming of various shows and movies, both those with a
direct connection to the local area, and those filmed and produced elsewhere in the UK. The second
main function that the museum fulfils is as an archive for journalists, researchers and even
enthusiasts, offering not only factual records but also contemporary reviews, news articles,
photographs and other information relating to a wide array of television and cinema productions.
These collections have, until now, only been accessible by visiting the premises in person. Recently,
this has proven to be less than ideal mainly for two reasons: firstly, during the enforced closure of
the site due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has not been feasible to allow visitors entry to the
premises, with the result that those who use the collections as a key source of information have
been unable to access what they need. Secondly, an increasing amount of interest in the collections
is coming from those who live overseas, and therefore, cannot feasibly visit the site. These factors
have led the museum ownership to believe that now is the perfect time to digitise the collection, so
that the full range of materials can be accessed at any time and from any place.
The initial digitisation process has been completed, with each item now being represented by digital
artefacts, including but not limited to images, video, audio descriptions and text files. The following
stage is the development of a classification system to organise these items, followed by the
development of a system to facilitate access. There are several key considerations to bear in mind;
as this is a ground-up project, there is no need to adhere to any existing approach to classification
that has been taken. Primarily, the system will be used by people without any expertise in
information retrieval, nor any real technical expertise, and so it must be user-friendly. The system
must also cater for both casual, exploratory users (who, for example, wish to view images and video
of memorabilia, and so will want access to as much information as they can across all formats) and
users with more specific, targeted queries, such as a researcher looking for a particular article
written about a specific movie or actor.
Scenario B: Level-Up North-East
Level-Up North-East is not-for-profit organisation based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne which aims to
match up their clients (i.e., jobseekers) with potentially suitable opportunities and aid them in the
acquisition of skills to help make them job ready. For the charity to run effectively, there is a
requirement for significant amounts of information to be gathered, stored and accessed by various
parties. Presently, much of this is done in an informal, ad-hoc manner, so there is a need for an
information management system to be put in place to make the organisation and access of the
information faster, easier, and less prone to errors.
The organisation creates and uses a large amount of different data, particularly records that must be
kept relating to clients (such as their current skills profile, courses that they have enrolled on or
completed, personal information, and any special requirements that they have) and records which
must be kept for funding bodies (such as the attendees of every session and client outcomes). This
data must be able to be accessed quickly and easily, to produce reports and answer queries from the
funding organisations that support Level-Up North-East. In addition to data held relating to clients,
data is also held on the volunteers who lead the sessions (for example, the skills and expertise that
they have, the times that they are available) and data on employers (such as the vacancies that they
currently have open, and the person specifications for each role). Currently, all of this data is stored
in different locations, which are only known, and therefore accessible, to the specific volunteers who
have taken ownership of key areas. This is inefficient, and can lead to duplication, incorrect data
being stored and, in some cases, causes issues that impact upon the day-to-day operations of the
charity, harming its ability to provide services to the standard that is expected. Therefore, there is a
need for a system to be devised that can catalogue and classify all of the data and information,
ensuring accessibility from a centralised storage point.
Different parties require access to this information, either directly (for example, the volunteers who
will be able to interact with the system in person) or indirectly (such as the funding bodies that may
request information in the form of reports). As a result, the system must be easy to use by people
without a background in information retrieval. Typically, the users will be looking for specific
information about a specific individual, entity, initiative, or event, and therefore ideally, the system
should operate in a way that provides the best results for more targeted queries, even if this means
that multiple queries will be needed to get larger sets of information.
Scenario C: Excite Digital
Excite Digital is a software development firm providing bespoke point-of-sale (POS) solutions to a
wide array of small businesses in addition to offering post-sales support to the customers that have
purchased a product. Recently, the organisation has moved to a predominantly remote working
model, where employees are able to work up to four days a week from home, with only a single day
per week of office working being mandated (to allow for meetings to take place and some social
contact to be maintained). This change has been well received by staff, but it has created issues for
Excite Digital, in terms of the way that information is organised and accessed.
There are two main departments within Excite Digital: the development team (which includes
analysts, data engineers and software developers, among others) and the support team (which
includes support staff with an array of expertise, such as database administration, networks and
operating systems). Between these two teams, a huge amount of data and information is generated,
frequently as a result of most customers specifying bespoke software suites, meaning that each
project contains many unique elements which must be designed, implemented and then effectively
documented for support purposes. The format of the data and information is highly heterogenous,
including but not limited to word processed documentation, images, written code, patch notes, user
feedback and other data stores in a variety of formats. As there is presently no centralised system to
facilitate the management of these files, employees, working without sufficient direction from
management, have created a vast, distributed network of information across a variety of platforms,
from personal laptops through to online repositories such as Google Drive and GitHub. This has
created the problem of key knowledge becoming compartmentalised, with only certain individuals
or teams having access to certain information. Operationally, this has resulted in several issues.
Firstly, product development rates are being impacted by the absence of effective communication
and file sharing between teams. Secondly, support teams are not able to access the materials that
allow them to fully understand, and therefore support, the products that are being developed.
Finally, new employees are encountering difficulties when trying to acquire knowledge that is
essential for them to perform their jobs properly.
To alleviate these issues, the management team at Excite Digital have proposed that a new system
be developed that allows for the effective classification and organisation of the data and information
which is being produced by the activities of the organisation, and to facilitate the access of these
items by staff members. This system will be an internal system set up as an intranet, which can be
accessed and added to by any employee but will be managed by a team of nominated
administrators. As there will be frequent cases where users will not know the exact name, content,
or format of the files they are searching for, users should be able to successfully search in both a
verificative and muddled manner. In practice, this may mean that as many possible matches are
found for a query, even if some less relevant results are returned. To cater to these problems where
the exact information need may not be known, the use of some sort of metadata is encouraged. As
no such system currently exists, however, the schema and structure to be used can be set in any way
that is appropriate.