Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.23, No.3, 2007. pp. 409432

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Procedures for Updating Classification Systems: A Study of Biotechnology and the Standard Occupational Classification System

Government, business, and academic statistical organizations routinely develop classification systems to compartmentalize occupations, fields of study, foods, and many more classes of objects. When innovations occur in living and working conditions, so must innovations occur in these classification systems. This article explores the feasibility of applying cognitive psychology research techniques as a tool to guide such updating. The method entails two cognitive exercises and three analytical approaches that assist experts in identifying the deficiencies in an existing classification system. To illustrate application of the procedure, the method was applied to the Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC) in an effort to accommodate recent changes in the biotechnology industry. Various indicators attest to the validity of the results and therefore encourage use of the methodology with other classification systems and innovations.

Classification systems, SOC, employment, sorting, cluster analysis, biotechnology

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