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Characteristics of the Genre
What should be counted as an encyclopaedia?
You read correctly! The question is not: What is an encyclopaedia? or even: What is the nature of an encyclopaedia? In cultural sciences, unlike in certain areas of research in the natural sciences (the genome of Escherichia Coli), the object is not given per se, but takes shape only through the lens of – phenomena-oriented – research. Designing the object carefully pays dividends by generating interesting questions and possible answers to them.
Document from The Zurich Project. This document is a discussion of the genre of encyclopaedia. The questions asked can help to define encyclopaedic works.
Translation made by Sabine Michel
What function does an encyclopaedia have? 'Knowledge storage' is too superficial an answer. Encyclopaedias frequently have other functions than those we would spontaneously attribute to them. Often the provision of information is not their dominant function.
Ways of Accessing a Knowledge Store: We propose a basic differentiation between three interlinked steps which are involved in the process of accessing a store of knowledge (i.e.: process of consultation – transfer of knowledge – information retrieval).