RedLink Taxonomy Developed in Collaboration with iSchool Students Nearing Completion: Taxonomy to Serve all Areas of the Academic Publishing Industry


A team of former and current MLIS students, led by iSchool Lecturer Dr. Virginia Tucker, are putting the finishing touches on an innovative taxonomy of academic disciplines created for Silicon Valley startup RedLink.

Silicon Valley startup RedLink, a business intelligence solution provider for academic publishers, didn’t have to look far when it needed specialists in taxonomy creation, data management, and journal tagging. Familiar with the wealth of expertise at the nearby San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool), the company hired Dr. Virginia Tucker, lecturer at the iSchool, to head up a team of taxonomy analysts to consult on the project.

The team led by Tucker includes two recent graduates of the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program: Vaughn Egge (MLIS 2014) and Ellie Fullman (MLIS 2014). A third MLIS student, Jonathan Dale, recently joined the effort to complete the project that is slated to wrap up in September 2015.

“The project began in April 2014,” explained Tucker, “and after the initial scoping work we did, the size of it grew considerably.” According to Tucker, RedLink will be able to use the taxonomy of academic disciplines created by the team to further develop its current products and also to envision future avenues of growth. “The company is happy with the work—it will also be in the backbone of additional products in development,” she stated.

Deepika Bajaj, vice president for publisher relations at RedLink, noted that part of the success of the project was due to the commitment of all team members. “Everyone on the project—Virginia, Vaughn, Ellie, and Jonathan (who is relatively new)—demonstrated impeccable professionalism in collaborating to deliver on time,” she stated. “There is nothing more inspiring than a team that takes on breaking new ground and comes out with flying colors.”

RedLink’s taxonomy project is unique; it will provide a means for publishers to get deeper customer insights in order to stay competitive in a changing business environment. “The RedLink taxonomy was a complicated project, and it was a team effort to get this far,” said Bajaj. “The result is that we have the most comprehensive framework for analysis of academic journals.”

Bajaj noted that “building a taxonomy from the ground up is a feat that will lend itself to better serve all areas of the academic publishing industry.” Dale agreed, saying that the team’s work “will help provide statistical information for academic publishers who can use that information to more effectively market and develop various content areas.”

Fullman added that the taxonomic work she, Dale, and Egge are doing also “[helps] the academic publishing ecosystem by bringing currently disparate organizational schemas together into one common, flexible, and consistent language that can be utilized by all.”

Tucker found that the RedLink project had benefits for other academic and professional projects as well. “The collaboration with RedLink has also enhanced my research and teaching activities in information ecosystems,” she said. “The work brings new perspectives to my research work in design concepts and team processes that are critical for knowledge organization projects.”

Tucker also sees applications for the work done in collaboration with RedLink that go beyond publishing. “Our team took the initiative to design and build processes and a product that serves the academic publishing industry,” she explained. “The methodologies we developed are innovative for both industry and scholarly communities.”

The current and former iSchool students hired for the project have found that the skills learned in the iSchool’s MLIS degree program have been essential to their work with RedLink. “I’ve been able to use the research skills I learned in INFO 244 Online Searching to gather information for the team,” said Dale. “INFO 247 Vocabulary Design and INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification have provided essential information that I’ve used in my work thus far as well.”

The acquisition of new skills and the experience of putting those skills to work in a real-world business environment has also been an important part of the RedLink project. “My primary role at the moment involves researching the ‘aboutness’ of selected academic journals and then making a first pass at tagging these journals with our newly developed taxonomy,” said Dale.

The experience of putting skills into practice has been a rich one for the current and former students. “One of the major lessons I’ve learned so far is how much this kind of taxonomy work is definitely more art than science,” explained Dale. “No matter how well-structured or researched the taxonomy, at the end of the day it still comes down to human beings to make decisions about how those terms should be applied.”

The startup environment is a particularly exciting place for the students to employ their recently acquired skills. Egge stated that he is “thrilled” to be working in an environment defined by learning and growth at the organizational level. “I believe strongly in the value of bringing people of various perspectives, backgrounds, and areas of expertise together with the goal of establishing, through some degree of collaboration, shared organizational habits, routines, protocol, and identity,” he added.

The RedLink project has opened up new career possibilities in the field of information science for all involved. Egge noted, “The project has opened for me a whole other world of options I’d never considered before enrolling in the iSchool.” Dale agreed, stating that his horizons have expanded for his career after he completes his MLIS. “I’m hopeful this work will provide valuable experience for eventually moving full time into the information architecture field or possibly into user experience work as well,” he said.

Fullman echoed her colleagues on the possibilities discovered in working with RedLink. She described herself as “fully entrenched [in]” and “never tiring of” the field of information organization she has been working in on the project. Tucker observed exceptional professionalism in all the team members and quick learning to perform at a high level and communicate openly in a start-up environment.

Bajaj expressed great satisfaction that the RedLink collaboration has been so fruitful for everyone. “I am delighted to note that the project opens future opportunities for the team and wish them all the best for future endeavors—this is a true measure of a successful project,” she said.

The iSchool’s work with RedLink is just one of a number of recent projects piloted in partnership with Silicon Valley firms. San José State University is also known for providing jobs in Silicon Valley to more students and alumni than any other university, including iSchool graduate students looking for career opportunities with innovative companies like RedLink.

About RedLink

RedLink has been associated with the world of academic publishing by providing business intelligence (BI) solution to a number of publishers across different hosting platforms. It provides a simple, intuitive and user friendly interface to visualize data in a way that enables marketing and sales people to stay on top of their customers’ needs, proactively deal with risks, easily spot opportunities, and grow their business. RedLink Network is the cornerstone of RedLink’s new and ambitious push to solve some of the vexing issues being faced by both the publishers and librarians by streamlining scholarly communication. For more information about RedLink, please visit: