Collecting structured indigenous knowledge for enhanced exploration: the National Recordal System (NRS), South Africa

  • Ronell Alberts
  • Gugu Khalala
  • Onkgopotse Molefe
Keywords: indigenous knowledge, research, knowledge management, value, South Africa


Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is recognised as a valuable, often untapped resource. It is increasingly important to record un-captured IK for the purposes of protection, preservation and promotion. The potential of IK for the use of scientific research and development is known and can be financially beneficial to the holders of IK in communities when managed properly. The need to be able to effectively explore recorded IK for the purposes of scientific investigation and to prove prior knowledge is increasing. The exploration of IK recorded as free-form stories is found to be less effective for these purposes. In order to increase the effectiveness of exploration of recorded IK, an approach was defined to enrich the processes of IK collection by defining structured metadata to be collected in addition to the IK story itself. The National Recordal System (NRS) initiative in South Africa has been used as a case study for this approach. The approach, implementation, evaluation and results in terms of the effectiveness of the process, the effect of the introduction of structured metadata in the process and the resulting effectiveness of exploration are described in this paper.


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