Thanks to discussions at the ISA/Monreal Congress and the APSA/Boston conference, and especially to suggestions from Henry Teune and Matti Malkia, the text that follows is a significantly revised version of the original draft. It is still admittedly rough and readers are invited to send suggestions for further changes to the author, using the "mailto" form given at the end of this file.
During the past quarter century of COCTA's existence, four far-reaching transformations have radically changed the context in which conceptual and terminological analysis is needed. IPSA's current review of the status of its Committee on Conceptual and Terminological Analysis provides an opportunity to recall these changes, to assess the current situation, and to consider what substantive and organizational reforms may be called for. Each of these transformations differs significantly from the others and I will discuss them separately as:
#1. The IPSA Context.
The fact that COCTA is "RC01" reminds us that there were no other research
committees in IPSA when COCTA was recognized. When Giovanni Sartori, Henry
Teune, George Graham, Gideon Sjoblom, Fred Riggs and others gathered in
Munich during the IPSA Congress in 1970, the Association was still young
and had no organized groups established to focus attention on key problems
and concepts. In a completely open field, COCTA was free to look attentively
at any concept and think about its implications for theory and practice.
Its sessions were well attended -- there was virtually no competition.
However, its discussions sometimes triggered the formation of concept-oriented
groups that subsequently became research committees -- a complete list
can be found at:
Some of these groups have themes that were first discussed at COCTA panels: consider the following examples: #2 on elites; 4 bureaucracy; 8 legislatures; 9 judiciaries; 10, 23 policy; 13 democracy; 14 ethnicity; 16 pluralism; 23 alienation; 26 human rights; 27 government; 28 federalism; 30 public opinion; 34 elections; 36 power; and 37 development. COCTA also stressed cross-disciplinary discourse and encouraged the growth of hybrid fields, a process that also led to the emergence of such IPSA committees as: 6 sociology; 11 science; 12 biology; 15 geography; 17 economics; 21 education; 22 communications; 29 psychology; 31 philosophy; 35 technology; 38 business. Because there are still important theoretical problems of conceptual and terminological analysis to be examined, the traditional role of COCTA as a Research Committee needs to be maintained. However, I think we need to add functions or activities that will support the efforts of all other research committees to analyze and use more effectively the key concepts required for their own progams.
A supplementary role for COCTA as a Research Committee able to help other research committees clarify their own key concepts and improve the terminology at their command is both needed and possible. A discussion of this additional role is offered below in networking The relevant methodology needed for such a transformation is now available, but it was not understood by anyone in 1970. To see why this is so we need to turn to the second major transformation of the past quarter century.
#2. The Semantic/Onomantic shift.
When COCTA was launched, the only methodology available to us was Semantic. It called for the analysis of individual terms, such as the committee names mentioned above. A book edited by Giovanni Sartori, first COCTA chair, is called Social Science Concepts: A Systematic Analysis (Sage: 1984). It contains chapters examining key terms, e.g., Consensus by George Graham, Development by Fred Riggs, Ethnicity by Robert Jackson, Integration by Henry Teune, Political Culture by Glenda Patrick, Power by Jan-Erik Lane and Hans Stenlund, and Revolution by Christoph Kotowski. In each of these chapters, the starting point is a word that had acquired a multiplicity of meanings. We were able to demonstrate this fact by references to the literature in which, in context, one can usually find out what the authors had in mind. However, we lacked any clear ideas about how to deal with the confusion caused by this fact. Semanticists are content to report the various meanings of words as they are used in various contexts, but they offer no remedy to overcome the resulting confusion.
Sartori's theoretical chapter in this book, entitled Guidelines for Concept analysis, starts with Semantics and explains how words acquire multiple meanings. He ends the chapter with a succinct discussion of the problems involved in defining concepts and finding suitable terms for them. In retrospect, we can now view that exercise as the beginning of our recognition of what we now refer to as the Onomantic paradigm. Since then we have come a long way. Originally, we thought of this perspective as Ana-semantic, i.e., inverted semantics, or the Naming paradigm. If one starts by describing a concept through identifying its essential (defining) characteristics, one can then ask what words, phrases, or symbols might most conveniently be used to represent it. It is misleading to speak of defining any concept -- only words or terms can be defined. New concepts lack terms and can only be described, not defined.
Lexicographers define an entry word in a dictionary by means of texts that identify each of its senses. The sense numbers found in standard dictionary definitions identify different concepts each of which is described by a separate text. Words, phrases, terms are units of language but are not concepts -- however, we use them to represent concepts, a basic process without which we could scarcely think, work, or write. When we are not sure what concept a word designates in a particular context, we ask for a text, a description that clearly specifies its meaning in that context. Such a concept is never all the senses of a word as defined in its dictionary entry -- it can only be one of those senses (definitions). The word, mouse, can stand for a rodent or a computer gadget, and these are clearly different concepts even though one word is used for both.
Onomantics reverses this process -- instead of starting with a word to define, it begins with a notion or concept to be described. Subsequently, of course, if one wants to use a concept regularly, one will look for or propose a word or phrase that can be used to represent it -- short expressions that can easily be remembered are usually preferred. Ideally, they should not have other meanings, but if they do, it should be easy to determine, in context, which meaning is intended -- mouse is a good example of such a term.
The Onomantic process is counter-intuitive and difficult to grasp, even though its basic principles are just as simple as those of its counterpart, Semantics. Among the various reasons for this difficulty is simply the fact that we do not have conceptual glossaries -- instead, we are swamped by dictionaries and alphabetized glossaries in which entry words, arranged in alphabetical order, provide the key to finding concepts -- the unconscious premise is that these words are concepts! That's a deceptive blunder -- we need to remind ourselves that a word or term is not a concept -- it is just a label or tag that can be used to recall a concept (an idea or notion) -- something that we can clearly identify only by a text that carefully identifies its defining characteristics.
We also resist the Onomantic approach because of a misguided impression that it involves essentialist thinking -- we prefer approaches that are existentialist. This raises philosophical problem that cannot be discussed here. Needless to say, if a dictionary definition can tell us what we mean by any word, hippopotamus, for example, then the defining text in a dictionary identifies this concept. I choose this word because it is one of the rare words that dictionaries attribute only one meaning to -- look up cat by contrast and you will see it can stand for a range of concepts -- more than 20 in my dictionary! If you look up any of the terms used to name IPSA research committees -- such as elite, bureaucracy, policy, pluralism, alienation, power, development -- you will find that each of them represents quite a few concepts. For our purposes, each of these concepts is useful to someone or it would not be lexiconized. Whether it can be classed as essentialist or existentialist is not so important as the fact that someone uses it.
An important difference between new and old concepts is that, because new ones have not yet been used, they lack designators. If we do want to use them, we need such terms. When the lack of a term compels us to repeat the description of a concept, it is not only tedious but textual variations lead to confusion between concepts that may be very similar yet marginally different. Finding suitable terms (tags) is the basic goal of Onomantics. Of course, insofar as most of the concepts we need already have unambiguous terms, we don't have to worry -- there is no Semantic problem either -- in case of doubt, we just ask the speaker (writer) to explain what is intended. By contrast, there is a big problem for Political Science -- indeed, for all of social science -- involving the identification and representation of the new concepts needed to formulate the theories and descriptions that enable us to understand what is happening in a rapidly changing world.
Sometimes the need for a new term to represent a concept arises even though the concept involved is not actually new. To illustrate, consider a word like nation among whose various meanings we can distinguish the idea of a state (as in the "United Nations") or of an ethnic community, such as the Kurds, Basques, Hawaiians, or Chechens. Political scientists usually use "nation" in the first sense and Sociologists in the second. Both concepts are important in both disciplines, however, and we need an unambiguous term for each. It is fruitless to argue about which is the proper meaning of this word -- why not accept the fact that it has two relevant meanings and select different tags for each of them? For example, we might use state nation to represent all members of the UN, and ethnic nation to designate any community that claims the right to have its own state because it constitutes a "nation".
Incidentally, one reason why terms become ambiguous is due to what Sartori called "stretching," i.e. extending the meanings of words up a ladder of abstraction, from more specific to more generic in a hierarchy of linked concepts: e.g. apples and oranges are both fruits, but if we didn't have a word for fruit, we might be tempted to stretch the meaning of "apple" to include all kinds of fruit. Actually, that often happens as when we use "bread" or the Chinese use "rice to refer to any kind of food. It would be reasonable for us to expand the meaning of nation to include both state and ethnic nations, and then to insist that one specify the kind of "nation" one had in mind by using "ethnic" and "state" as qualifiers. Actually, we do need a new concept that includes both categories because, increasingly, violent conflicts in our world arise between state and ethnic nations, rather than between states. I used "nation" in this generic sense in an article called Turmoil among Nations which one may find at
In short, the Onomantic solution for handling ambiguity due to the proliferation of meanings attached to one word is not to argue about what the word should mean but, rather, to make sure one has an unambiguous term for each of its significant meanings, i.e. the concepts one wishes to use. It is unnecessary to look into all the meanings of a word, a Semantic luxury, because we can forget about the meanings of a word that are unimportant to us. According to my dictionary, mouse is a word with about 12 meanings, most of which I don't recognize, including a kind of popular dance, a black eye, to prowl about, etc. I know, or course, that it represents a kind of rodent, but so long as I'm in the company of computer people, the word quite unambiguously represents a kind of electronic device. The pedantic notion that words should always retain their original meanings is also absurd, as the 'mouse' example shows.
I conclude that the Onomantic solution for the terminological problems faced by social scientists is to help them find appropriate terms for all the useful meanings of an ambiguous word, and to create terms for new concepts. Such new terms may be phrases composed of familiar words, or actually newly coined words (neologisms) -- such as Onomantics. Some new words spread spontaneously and it is surely possible to speed the process by coining and promoting necessary terms -- consider the example of globalization: there is no entry for this word in my encyclopedic Webster's published in 1989. The INTERNET and the WWW are powerful new tools to help, as I shall show.
We now have the methods, tools, and concepts that we need in order to carry out an Onomantic analysis of the terminology problems faced by any field in Political Science. However, both the basic paradigm and the tools are almost completely unknown. Political scientists need them as much as they need an understanding of Statistics or Computer technology. Like them, it requires effort to learn. COCTA can make these tools available to all IPSA members and, especially, the intellectual leaders of its Research Committees who can, in turn, bring this knowledge to the members of their committees. That is the challenge we now face and the task COCTA can perform.
#3. The Cyberspace Revolution.
When COCTA was born, no one imagined that a new technology would bring far-reaching changes to all of us. Cyberspace was not a word -- it was born only in the last decade as a blend using cybernetics, a word coined by Norbert Wiener in 1948. Yet the establishment of the INTERNET and the WORLD WIDE WEB now give us capabilities that were unimaginable in the 1970s.
Nevertheless, the basic pattern of COCTA panels at IPSA congresses still presupposes the pre-cyberspace technology based on face-to-face discourse and the use of paper to record and exchange information. We even lack a term for these pre-cyberspace technologies -- words like traditional and conventional are scarcely adequate. Before cyberspace was born, everything that existed lacked the electronic properties generated by computers. What did they have in common? It's a cop-out to say they all shared the property of lacking computers! If we could accept a neologism here, we might illustrate the Onomantic process. How about coining somatospace? We use somato- as a prefix to characterize anything physical, such as a body type -- it can be found in various uncommon words such as somatoform, somatogenic, somatology, somatosensory, somatotype. However, there is no dictionary entry for somatospace. If we could accept it, we might find that using a neologism is sometimes easy to learn and useful.
However, it is unnecessary to accept this neologism in order to understand that until now most IPSA/COCTA activities have been organized completely in somatospace. It seems evident that future COCTA activities will depend heavily on the resources provided by cyberspace. Let me say a few words about why that is true. Several basic features of cyberspace open up opportunities for COCTA that are historically unprecedented and provide organizational resources hitherto unimaginable -- unfortunately, COCTA and most IPSA activities are still anchored to samatospace. The time has come to take advantage of cyberspace. Its basic resources for our purposes can be considered under three main headings:, e-mail lists, Web Pages, and hypertext.
#E-Mail Lists. The space/time barriers which constrained all relationships in somatospace have been broken by our ability to establish sustained discourse with colleagues who share our interests on a continuing basis regardless of where in the world they happen to be located. They don't need to meet face-to-face -- they don't even need use a typewriter or slow-mail. For an example of what I mean, take a look at:
This is an e-mail list that I constructed in a very short time to enable scholars writing about globalization anywhere in the world to discuss what they mean by this word and to seek consensus on a set of concepts and terms that would enable them to communicate more clearly among themselves. Instead of waiting for congresses to be held at three-year intervals, or struggling to bring members together for a face-to-face colloquium, at great cost in time and money, colleagues can become actively engaged in effective discourse at virtually no cost. Already, the Globe-L group has generated data compiled in documents posted on a Web Page.
#Web Pages. What distinguishes a Web Page from an E-Mail List is the fact that it enables useful documents to be archived and made available on command to all who may be interested. For example, many of the participants subscribing to Globe-L, all of whom have written scholarly papers or publications dealing with globalization, sent me short texts using "globalization" that I promptly posted on:
This compilation of texts provided the basis for a systematic display of concepts integrally involved in research on "globalization" which you can now view on:
These concepts are related to globalization in various ways -- some are different concepts that users have in mind when they speak of globalization. Others are closely linked concepts that come to mind when one is thinking about the planetary changes of our time.
These concepts may represent different places in time/space where globalization occurs, the cause/effect cycles of globalization, different dimensions observed by political scientists, economists, sociologists, etc. because of their different disciplinary screens, and the shifting perspectives of individuals having different ontological, teleological and normative points of view.
Admittedly, it is not easy to sort these concepts out and match them with the theoretical propositions which make them useful, and of course they overlap each other. However, the e-mail list permits members to react to these concepts and offer suggestions, counter-suggestions and proposals that will enrich the concept inventory. By the time of the Montreal ISA Congress in late July, a revised version of this document will be made available on paper for all participants to review and discuss. We hope that the text will be useful enough to serve as a kind of conceptual glossary to help future writers about globalization specify more clearly just what they have in mind..
The same process can, of course, be used by anyone interested in developing the key concepts of their own field of interest -- such, for example, as the various research committees of IPSA, the ISA, and any other professional society. Since globalization has implications for every social science discipline, including political science, we can easily continue it to provide a basis for IPSA members to enhance their own capacity to work together and understand each other. Moreover, since any E-mail List can be expanded or re-shaped as its members wish, Globe-L can be opened to IPSA members as well as ISA members and, indeed, the members of any other organization concerned with linked problems. This possibility exists because of the remarkable technique known as hypertext, a subject that needs some further explanation here.
#Hypertext. When COCTA was organized, hypertext could not even be imagined -- we all assumed that face-to-face communications could only be facilitated by linear texts written or printed on paper. Hypertext could not be created in somatospace. However, cyberspace provides the enabling technology on a personal computer and on the World Wide Web. Of course the two can be fused in various combinations using personal computers, disks, and linking techniques.
The simplest case is highly relevant for COCTA. In dictionaries and glossaries based on the semantic paradigm, a linear arrangement of term-entries based on how words are spelled -- the orthographic principle -- limits our ability to find concepts to the purely accidental arrangement of letters in a word -- a before b before c, etc. However, concepts are ideas whose relationships are logical, not accidental. To clarify these relationships and enable an information system to retrieve ideas rather than words, we need to relate concepts to each other. Traditionally, in somatospace, that was best done by classification schemes, such as one finds in any library where books are shelved in a systematic way. However, all such arrangements are as linear as an alphabetized list of words.
Hypertext permits concepts to be linked in many different directions or ways, not only in relation to each other but, at different levels, to theories, texts, authors, projects, and perspectives. Moreover, because the WWW embraces hypertext principles, users of hypertext need not be localized -- they can work simultaneously not only in one place, but anywhere in the world.. This basic ideas is easier to illustrate than to explain. Consider first what can happen when an ordinary dictionary is posted in hypertext. Take a look at this basic computerized version of the Meriam Webster Dictionary:
It will immediately present you with a window in which you can type a word whose definitions you want to see. The screen that pops up will not only identify each concept represented by that word, but provide hypertext links to other words that are synonyms for each of these concepts.
The Wordsmythe dictionary contains these features but adds a thesaurus that enables users to find synonyms for each of the concepts that a word can represent. You may find it by jumping to:
Another intensive refinement of ordinary dictionaries can be found at the following Hypertext Dictionary. It provides links for each of the words used in the sense definitions found in each entry, a technique that can clarify relationships between concepts since every concept used to define another concept is related to it in some way. Here you can also find many links to phrases in which an entry word appears, giving one access to various context in which the meanings of a word are changed.
All of these dictionaries reflect Semantic perspectives, providing information about words whose meanings have already become established. Insofar as creative scholars are often confronted with the need for new concepts, they cannot get any help from such a dictionary. To see how the Onomantic alternative works, take a look at:
This site illustrates a basic bottom-up approach that any individual scholar can use. Let's assume that while writing a paper, one thinks of a new concept and decides it will be helpful to suggest a term to represent it. In this example, I offer an example based on paper of mine entitled, Turmoil among Nations (TAN), which talked about conflicts between ethnic nations and states, often taking the form of civil war within a state, yet often involving inter-state conflict as well -- consider the complicated dynamics of the struggles taking place in Bosnia, Palestine, Serbia/Kosova, Chechnya, Sudan, Kashmir for current examples. To clarify these problems I felt that it was necessary to introduce some concepts -- at least, I lacked any information about others who may have used the same concepts and proposed terms for them. Using an Onomantic approach, I first prepared a record for each concept taking the form of a simple text. Then I tried to think of all the terms that could conveniently be used to represent each concept. After doing that, I suggested a simple classification scheme that would clarify the logical relationships between these concepts, and I introduced hypertext links to enable readers to jump from any one concept to others that are related to it. Finally, I prepared a set of cue cards that readers can jump to in order to see a schematic outline, alphabetical list, or other way to find the record one may be seeking. Here is the list of CUE CARDS:
If one knows a term that has been chosen for any concept in this small set, it is possible to jump to TANE which has an alphabetical list of these terms with links to each of the designated concepts. TAND provides a bibliography which, in this case, is limited to the single text from which the concepts were taken, but in a larger project, a variety of works in which the given concept has been used could be linked. In this small example, all concepts are linked to the single source paper -- however, they are not yet linked to the point in the text from which the illustrative text has been taken. They will be -- that's a promise. Meanwhile, although the TAN project lacks such links to text sites, it does provide links to the whole text, and to endnotes that provide further information about each of the glossed concepts. They can be accessed as follows:
These supporting links are offered in TANA from which one can jump to the endnotes and also the full text and its bibliography.
Another technique that is relevant here has been used in a project that readers can find at:
In this project, concept records were prepared on the basis of four papers dealing with ethnic nationalism that were presented at the conference of the International Studies Association in Toronto in 1997. Instead of taking concepts from just one author, I tried to reconcile the concepts and terms used by different authors -- since they came from four different disciplines, it was also a good way to see how the vocabularies of these disciplines conflict or harmonize. Moreover, the emphasis here is not on new concepts but rather on words that, as used by the different authors, have somewhat different connotations. The glossary, in conventional (somatospace) form, will soon appear as an alphabetized document in IPSA's International Political Science Review. On the Web Page, however, each record in the glossary is linked to an anchor in the text from which it was taken. By clicking on a glossary link, readers can jump to the theoretical context in which the concept was used. This enables them to evaluate the value of the concept as it was used -- and as they might want to use it themselves in their own work. In the IPSR format, however, page references are provided so that readers can jump from the term record to its place in the text.
Although, these examples are all taken from a single Web Page, the WWW system supports inter-page jumps. For example, further information about INTERCOCTA as a standing committee of the International Social Science Council can be found by going to the ISSC home page as mirrored at Matti Malkia's site:
Access to the hypertext version of the Riggs/Malkia glossary on ethnicity can be obtained via:
Further relevant information can be secured from Mattei Malkia's Home Page at:
A COCTA panel planned for the July 1998 Montreal Congress of the International Sociological Association will discusss how both the semantic and onomantic perspectives supplement each other. An explanation of this process can be found at the:
Thesauruses. Turning from the specialized Onomantic approach of ISSC/COCTA to the contributions available for conceptual and terminological analysis through Information Science, one can jump to a variety of thesauruses which are simply indexing languages designed to help catalogers prepare consistent subject headings and for users seeking to find useful key words. As such they are neither semantic nor onomantic in ordientation, but they do provide invaluable lists of words organized and selected systematically. Most of them are specialized by disciplines, but one that covers all the social sciences can be found at:
This HASSET social science thesaurus will enable IPSA members to see how any given concept fits into a systematic framework that is universal in scope. By contrast, the schemed devised for specific projects like the Ethnicity Glossary and the TAN exercise, mentioned above, often re-shape the classification structure of related concepts to serve a particular purpose. Clearly, no one classification scheme can serve all purposes. Instead, the hypertext technology permits us to use a variety of schemes depending on the purposes we have in mind. A useful starting point, however, is a general scheme like HASSET which can provide a foundation from which appropriate adaptations for particular purposes can be designed. A specifically onomantic application of HASSET or any other thesaurus is "negative" in the sense that when a word does not appear in a thesaurus, the user may infer that it has no special meaning in the field covered by that standardizing index. This information legitimizes proposals to stipulate new meanings for such words without running the risk of ambiguity. So long as the domains in which a word has meaning are quite different from each other, new meanings can be added without such risks -- remember the mouse as a paradigmatic example.
Relationships between concepts are often spelled out in Terminology work, another field of work that overlaps both Information Science and Onomantics. In this connection, it is relevant to point to the Hyperpolitics project now being developed by Ted Lowi and Mauro Calise. It will, I believe, soon provide access to thoughtful analyses of linkages between concepts based on material contained in many professional dictionaries for political science and related fields. Again, on the WWW, such information will be made available with the click of a button. However, until the project is actually posted on the Web, it is premature to speculate about it precise features, but I am confident it will be extremely help for anyone doing conceptual and terminological analysis.
Without taking any more time for technical discussion, let me just conclude by remarking that concepts never stand alone. In order to evaluate and use them effectively, one needs not only to have easily remembered and unambiguous terms for each concept as a stand alone notion, but also will need to relate concepts, both new and old , to the established vocabulary of the fields in which they are used, including the theories and literature which provide both a motive for creating new concepts and a place to use them. Finally, to become adept at conceptual and terminological analysis, one needs not only expertise in substantive fields of application, but also familiarity with the relevant methodological Semantic and Onomantic techniques and theories. As I see it, the special responsibility of IPSA/COCTA involves making this knowledge available to all IPSA members -- it's not something for a small group of specialists. Its true value will become apparent only when everyone involved in scholarly work has learned to use it. To see how that may be possible, we need to consider how Research Committees can develop effective networking procedures.
#4. The Networking Process
Networking supports a range of complementary activities intended to supplement and extend the usefulness of Research Committees. In the normal situation, such groups are allocated opportunities to hold panels and workshops concurrently -- this automatically makes them rivals of each other since, at any given time, one can attend only one session. Equally important and interesting sessions that occur at the same time have to be skipped. As globalization and the multiplication of disciplines has increased the density and complexity of international professional societies, it is important for us to recognize the need for practices that enable a given research committee to augment their scheduled sessions by sponsoring activities that help other research committees, a kind of networking structure. Thereby the complementarity of groups and their ability to support each other can be enhanced.
There are several Research Committees that have a special need to be able to perform this networking function. They include groups that focus, for example, on the methodology of research, public relations, bibliographic and informational needs, and inter-associational (cross-disciplinary) liaison. COCTA can well provide such a networking service for all other research groups by helping them see how they can clarify the concepts and terms they need in their own research and theory development work.
COCTA should now be able to perform this function in IPSA and it has distinctive knowledge that is much needed. In the early stages of its development, so little was known about the problems involved in helping social scientists develop the concepts and terms needed in their work that it was presumptuous for COCTA to think that it could offer much useful assistance to other research groups. It needed to focus attention during its first years on the analysis of conceptual and terminological problems, as they relate to theory development and the clarification of social science discourse. It attracted a small group of members who happened to be curious about these problems even though they lacked much expertise in the field. Indeed, it soon became apparent that there was no body of knowledge and practice that could be tapped directly -- such fields as "Terminology," "Semantics," "Lexicography," "Information Science" and "Knowledge Organization" all had relevant information but it was necessary to evolve a new field that could be applied to the special problems confronting social scientists.
Now, however, we have learned enough about how to do conceptual and terminological analysis so COCTA (as IPSA RC1) can usefully advise all members of the Association who have conceptual and terminological problems. It's structure as a Research Committee should be retained, but additional kinds of activities need to be added to its traditional functions.
Two techniques that can be utilized for this purpose involve systematic use of the INTERNET and especially the World Wide Web, and the organization of workshops preceding Congresses at which representatives of interested Reseach Committees can participate. Let me say something about each of these techniques, starting with workshops.
COCTA could organize a workshop or training session to be held just prior to each Congress, at which interested IPSA members will learn more about the solution of conceptual problems. These include the use of Onomantic methods to facilitate the handling of new concepts for which unambiguous terms are not available; and also the use of Semantic methods to support the clarification of established concepts and the identification of their inter-relationships and theoretical uses. A theoretical starting point can be found in Riggs and Malkia's Descriptive Terminology: The INTERCOCTA Approach, in Gerhard Budin and Sue-Ellen Wright, eds. Handbook of Terminology Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 1997, pp. 184-196.
For practical purposes, however, the most effective introductory techniques may be based on case studies. The ISA(Soc) globalization project seems to be ideally suited for this purpose. It can easily be replicated in IPSA, and if it works out successfully, other equally important concepts of widespread interest can provide the basis for follow-up projects. However, increasingly, as research committee members learn how helpful these techniques can be, I suspect they will want to conduct their own projects. A non-member of any committee, with more experience in a different field of specialization, can serve as an adviser -- not on the substantive aspects of their project, but on its methodology. That includes all the theoretical understandings generated by Onomantics as the reverse of Semantics, but we should also make use of many new tools provided by the INTERNET.
After the ISA/Montreal Congress, we should have enough information and examples based on the Globalization Roundtable to be held at the end of July to be able to provide more concrete results and operational details. Meanwhile, however, a good start has been made and readers can jump to the glocon project mentioned above. Some more specific guidelines might be mentioned.
Having members who want to specialize in "conceptual and terminological analysis," just as members of a committee on "elites," "ethnicity," or "elections" do, is quite appropriate and should be perpetuated as a continuing function of COCTA as an IPSA Research Committee. However, in order to network with other research committees of the Association, COCTA should recruit liaison persons from these groups who would want to help extend the COCTA methods to their own fields of interest.
The next step involves cultivating interest in finding solutions and this can best be provided, I think, by conducting experiments, like the### "globalization" project. Members of different committees will be attracted to this project because virtually all of them are directly affected by the processes of globalization now under way. Later on, after they have learned how the Onomantic methods can help them, they will, I think, be eager to work with COCTA.
#2. Inter-Congress Meetings.
Such meetings are important and COCTA has sponsored several autonomous workshops, plus annual panels at conferences of the American Political Science Association. However, two other formats are also needed:
The most important criterion for effective networking, in my opinion, involves having a lively e-mail list and an effective Web Page, plus special workshops attended by members of research committees at which practical demonstration exercises can be conducted..
#3. Inter-disciplinary Action. Liaison with other associations and cross-disciplinary cooperation has always been important, but the recent changes make it more important than ever, for reasons discussed above.### More than ten IPSA research committees focus on hybrid fields that involve at least two disciplines: #6 in sociology; 11 science, 12 biology, 12 geography, 17 economics, 21 education, 22 communications, 29 psychology, 31 philosophy, 35 technology, 38 business. Differences in terminology often hamper communication between specialists in different disciplines, a fact that hampers cross-disciplinary communication and makes the COCTA enterprise increasingly important. At the same time, the new INTERNET based capabilities immensely facilitate cross-disciplinary communication because they can be carried out in cyberspace -- the need for costly and time-consuming work to arrange face-to-face meetings can be avoided.
One of the considerations making inter-congress meetings so important has always been the expectation that members of another disciplines who would not normally attend IPSA Congresses can be enticed to come to ad-hoc gatherings organized in somatospace by the hybrid committees mentioned above. Although such meetings are still important, they can be replaced in part by cyberspace communications, and even when they are held, they typically lack the time needed to discuss conceptual and terminological problems -- the pressure is always there to focus on substantive issues.
The need for cross-disciplinary communication was recognized by COCTA from the beginning and led to the formation of a kind of three-legged stool based in IPSA, the ISA, and the ISSC. Unfortunately, for reasons that need not be spelled out here, this arrangement fell apart a few years ago, and each branch of COCTA became a separate organization, at least formally. In fact, however, there are enough individuals who active in two or more of these groups so that coordination can be arranged informally. It would be better, however, if a more formal linkage structure could be re-established. However, even without that, the use of E-Mail lists and Web Pages will enable us, in the future, to achieve substantial coordination between not only the IPSA and ISA, but also other associations that are linked by the ISSC, relying heavily on the INTERNET.
If IPSA/COCTA can establish a viable pattern for promoting conceptual and terminological analysis in all IPSA research committees, it will then build a foundation for extending this idea to other professional associations in the Social Sciences. Since the ISSC already exists as an umbrella organization, we should be able to mobilize support within the Council not only for maintenance of the existing ISSC/COCTA structure but for expanding its services by promoting counterpart inquiries in many of its member associations. This should, I think, pave the way for the eventual creation of a genuinely cooperative inter-associational COCTA that would permit the Council to provide an especially valuable service to all its members. That is something it is not able to do now, and if the idea is well received, it might even generate enough special financial support to permit the kind of minimal funding that such an operation will require. If successful, such activities will, assuredly, strengthen IPSA/COCTA as a leading actor in the development of theory and methods for conceptual and terminological analysis in the social sciences.
Although I have long abstained from efforts to play an organizational role in COCTA, I confess that the challenge of accomplishing a transformation of IPSA/COCTA along the lines spelled out above leads me to want to do my best to facilitate such an undertaking. Anyone reading these lines who would like to work with me and can offer additional suggestions is invited to write me on the mailto form offered below.