Nuclear Knowledge ? How To Preserve It

Research Coordination Meeting (RCM) on Comparative Analysis of Methods and Tools for Knowledge Preservation, IAEA, 15?19 October 2007

25 October 2007 - A group of experts assembled at the IAEA in mid-October to discuss methods and tools for preserving nuclear knowledge effectively. The meeting brought together representatives from eight participating organizations who held their second meeting within the framework of an IAEA Coordinated Research Programme on the topic.

"The strategic importance of preserving existing nuclear knowledge and expertise, and thus preventing that vital technical and historical information is lost, is increasingly recognized by nuclear power plants and other organizations in the nuclear field", said Ms. Marie-Laure Ruyssen, Scientific Secretary of the RCM, who heads the group on knowledge maintenance within the INIS and Nuclear Knowledge Management Section.

Discussion during the Meeting

That is why the IAEA initiated a coordinated research project on knowledge preservation, which is now in its second year. The project aims at assisting Member States in selecting and implementing cost-effective solutions for knowledge preservation and facilitating awareness of new methods and good practices to preserve knowledge that is critical to the nuclear sector. This requires different ways to capture, transfer and manage information and knowledge, using tools such as databases, expert systems, multimedia, intranets, portals and others.

Chaired by Mr. John de Grosbois of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), the meeting focused on the current status of research projects in the participating organizations. Considerable time was spent on defining "Knowledge Preservation" to ensure a common understanding among all CRP participants.

"We also identified three perspectives of knowledge preservation and a number of processes commonly associated with them", Ms. Ruyssen pointed out. The first is the archival perspective of knowledge preservation, such as done by libraries and record services in many organisations.

To that end, during the meeting experts from the IAEA?s INIS Unit presented their significant project on digital preservation, which converts literature of Member States from microfiche to digital media so that it can be accessed electronically from the INIS Database. The INIS Unit also supports other IAEA Divisions and the Library by digitizing policy documents and technical reports (see Newsletter 4, p.15).

Participants in the RCM on Comparative
Analysis of Methods and Tools for
Knowledge Preservation,
IAEA, 15?19October 2007

The other two perspectives identified by the participants are the Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) and Transaction Theory perspective, which relies mainly on various online-based information systems to integrate processes and support institutional memory, and the perspective of human resource and organizational learning to ensure that HR capabilities and core competencies are sustained, e.g. through formal training programmes, tacit knowledge retention and knowledge transfer.

Seven IAEA Member States and one international organization are undertaking research within the framework of this CRP, which will be concluded in September 2009. They are:

Contact: Ms. Marie-Laure Ruyssen, INIS and Nuclear Knowledge Management Section, IAEA