Playing with the Index Terms

Index Terms are the terms that we use to describe the subject matters of the document in hand. These terms are the index keys assigned to the document. The keys are to facilitate the search and retrieval of the documents. Using the terms that are listed in the previous post, we can come out several interesting points:

1. By looking at the list of index terms shown in the surrogate records (catalogue records), we can have a better understanding of the subject matters of the document being described. For example, if we see the terms ‘Haze’ and ‘Health advices’ appear in the record, we know that document is about some health tips when haze comes, and not economic impact of haze. That is something free text search cannot offer.

2. If our imaginative collection grows, we may need to control the words and phrases used in the index terms. We may need to create notes to indicate the scope of use of the terms. We may start to build a thesaurus.

3. We can try to create a map for all these terms. Draw a big circle at the centre and put the word ‘Haze’ in the circle. This becomes the central topic. Draw bubbles to contain each index term and draw lines to connect them together. You will start to see some branches linking the central topic and the subtopics. We should see some hierarchical relationships between the terms. In some cases, we may need to create new terms to connect the nodes and branches. Instead of putting the central topic at the centre, we can put it at the top of an organisation chart. This is a good exercise. You will benefit from it.