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Customer-Focused Thesauri
Computers in Libraries Conference
April 18, 2018
Arlington, VA
Presented by
Heather Hedden
Senior Vocabulary Editor
Gale, A Cengage Company
 Introduction to thesauri
 Keyword search default trend
 User behavior and possible user expectations
 Finding the thesaurus/subject search
 Types of subjects
 Subjects for refining searches
 Keyword vs. thesaurus subject search comparison example demo
Outline
2
 Thesaurus: A type of controlled vocabulary (authoritative list of terms), having:
1. An approved preferred term for each concept, and synonyms/variants/
nonpreferred terms redirecting to the preferred term name
 To support consistent indexing and high precision and recall in retrieval
2. Structured relationships between preferred terms, both hierarchical and
associative/related.
 To support browsing and finding the preferred subject
 Designed in accordance with standards: ANSI/NISO Z.39.19 2005 (R2010) Guidelines
for the Construction of Monolingual Vocabularies
 The same used in both indexing and retrieval.
 Support both print and online information retrieval.
Introduction to Thesauri
3
Indexers of database records
can browse or search a
thesaurus, with cross-
references to other terms:
 Broader terms
 Narrower terms
 Related terms (See also)
 See/Seen from
(use preferred term)
Introduction to Thesauri
4
Thesaurus Benefits
A thesaurus gathers synonyms, acronyms, variant spellings, etc.
 Documents not missed due to use of different words
(e.g. Automobiles, instead of Cars)
 Users do not need to guess the spelling of unusual or foreign names
(e.g. Muammar Gaddafi)
A search restricted on the thesaurus retrieves concepts not just words.
 Documents excluded for mere text-string matches
(e.g. monitors for computers, not the verb “observes”)
Introduction to Thesauri
5
 Subscription periodical/reference databases offer both Subject thesaurus and
keyword search.
 User interfaces present keyword search as default; thesaurus access is in
Advanced Search or other less obvious place
 Mimics familiar simple Google search experience
 Previously (before Google’s existence), thesaurus search or browse was the default.
Examples of simple search box and default keyword search
Keyword Search Default Trend
6
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
 Users tend to use the default search.
 Users may not understand what a “Thesaurus” is.
 Users may expect the availability of “Subjects” in library databases:
 OPACs offer Subject search.
 Subscription databases are supposed to be “better” than the web and
Google search.
 Users may be familiar with faceted subjects in ecommerce sites.
 Different users (students, researchers, professionals, nonprofessionals) may have
different levels of interest in searching Subjects.
User Behavior and Possible Expectations
13
No default standard location for Subjects in subscription database user interface
Could be:
 On the advanced search page
 From the top menu
 Drop-down next to the search box
 Subject Guide (not on menu; not default)
And also after getting search results:
 In the margin of search results, to limit the results
 In the margin of a selected record, to show its indexed Subjects
Where to Find Subjects
14
Subjects not accessible on
the default start page, only
on the Advanced Search page
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Subjects or Thesaurus
accessible from the top menu
Subjects accessible from
default search drop-down
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Subjects also accessible on
default start page via
“Subject Guide Search”
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Also, if matching a USE cross-reference
in the thesaurus, the cross-reference is
displayed as “Also Try.”
 In addition to the subject thesaurus, controlled lists of names/proper nouns might
also be available.
 These may appear as sub-types of Subjects.
Sub-types of Subjects
26
Sub-types of Subjects
27
Gale InfoTrac Advanced Search
Sub-types of Subjects
28
ProQuest Advanced Search
Subjects are not just for initial searching but for refining and discovering
 Refining: Subjects common in search result are listed on search result set margin
 Discovering: Subjects for a specific record are indicated, to allow exploring the
Subjects
Subjects for Refining Search Results
29
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Gale InfoTrac Search Results
Customer-Focused Thesauri
Demo from Gale Academic OneFile
Comparing results of basic (keyword) and subject searches
33
 Customer-focused thesauri are those that are made available in multiple places
(not just advanced search).
 Subscription database have the same UI for all customers, despite different
customer needs.
 If not used initially in search, Subjects are effective in limiting searches or providing
discovery.
 Subjects combined with second-level subdivisions can provide effective topic
refinement.
 Cross-product searches
 reduce the availability of multiple Subject/name types and
 can introduce inconsistencies from third-party subjects or thesauri
Conclusions
34
Heather Hedden
Senior Vocabulary Editor
Gale, A Cengage Company
20 Channel Center Street
Boston, MA 02210
heather.hedden@cengage.com
www.gale.com, www.cengage.com
blog.gale.com/subject-searching
accidental-taxonomist.blogspot.com
Questions/Contact
35

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Customer-Focused Thesauri

  • 1. 1 Customer-Focused Thesauri Computers in Libraries Conference April 18, 2018 Arlington, VA Presented by Heather Hedden Senior Vocabulary Editor Gale, A Cengage Company
  • 2.  Introduction to thesauri  Keyword search default trend  User behavior and possible user expectations  Finding the thesaurus/subject search  Types of subjects  Subjects for refining searches  Keyword vs. thesaurus subject search comparison example demo Outline 2
  • 3.  Thesaurus: A type of controlled vocabulary (authoritative list of terms), having: 1. An approved preferred term for each concept, and synonyms/variants/ nonpreferred terms redirecting to the preferred term name  To support consistent indexing and high precision and recall in retrieval 2. Structured relationships between preferred terms, both hierarchical and associative/related.  To support browsing and finding the preferred subject  Designed in accordance with standards: ANSI/NISO Z.39.19 2005 (R2010) Guidelines for the Construction of Monolingual Vocabularies  The same used in both indexing and retrieval.  Support both print and online information retrieval. Introduction to Thesauri 3
  • 4. Indexers of database records can browse or search a thesaurus, with cross- references to other terms:  Broader terms  Narrower terms  Related terms (See also)  See/Seen from (use preferred term) Introduction to Thesauri 4
  • 5. Thesaurus Benefits A thesaurus gathers synonyms, acronyms, variant spellings, etc.  Documents not missed due to use of different words (e.g. Automobiles, instead of Cars)  Users do not need to guess the spelling of unusual or foreign names (e.g. Muammar Gaddafi) A search restricted on the thesaurus retrieves concepts not just words.  Documents excluded for mere text-string matches (e.g. monitors for computers, not the verb “observes”) Introduction to Thesauri 5
  • 6.  Subscription periodical/reference databases offer both Subject thesaurus and keyword search.  User interfaces present keyword search as default; thesaurus access is in Advanced Search or other less obvious place  Mimics familiar simple Google search experience  Previously (before Google’s existence), thesaurus search or browse was the default. Examples of simple search box and default keyword search Keyword Search Default Trend 6
  • 13.  Users tend to use the default search.  Users may not understand what a “Thesaurus” is.  Users may expect the availability of “Subjects” in library databases:  OPACs offer Subject search.  Subscription databases are supposed to be “better” than the web and Google search.  Users may be familiar with faceted subjects in ecommerce sites.  Different users (students, researchers, professionals, nonprofessionals) may have different levels of interest in searching Subjects. User Behavior and Possible Expectations 13
  • 14. No default standard location for Subjects in subscription database user interface Could be:  On the advanced search page  From the top menu  Drop-down next to the search box  Subject Guide (not on menu; not default) And also after getting search results:  In the margin of search results, to limit the results  In the margin of a selected record, to show its indexed Subjects Where to Find Subjects 14
  • 15. Subjects not accessible on the default start page, only on the Advanced Search page
  • 18. Subjects or Thesaurus accessible from the top menu
  • 21. Subjects also accessible on default start page via “Subject Guide Search”
  • 25. Also, if matching a USE cross-reference in the thesaurus, the cross-reference is displayed as “Also Try.”
  • 26.  In addition to the subject thesaurus, controlled lists of names/proper nouns might also be available.  These may appear as sub-types of Subjects. Sub-types of Subjects 26
  • 27. Sub-types of Subjects 27 Gale InfoTrac Advanced Search
  • 29. Subjects are not just for initial searching but for refining and discovering  Refining: Subjects common in search result are listed on search result set margin  Discovering: Subjects for a specific record are indicated, to allow exploring the Subjects Subjects for Refining Search Results 29
  • 33. Demo from Gale Academic OneFile Comparing results of basic (keyword) and subject searches 33
  • 34.  Customer-focused thesauri are those that are made available in multiple places (not just advanced search).  Subscription database have the same UI for all customers, despite different customer needs.  If not used initially in search, Subjects are effective in limiting searches or providing discovery.  Subjects combined with second-level subdivisions can provide effective topic refinement.  Cross-product searches  reduce the availability of multiple Subject/name types and  can introduce inconsistencies from third-party subjects or thesauri Conclusions 34
  • 35. Heather Hedden Senior Vocabulary Editor Gale, A Cengage Company 20 Channel Center Street Boston, MA 02210 heather.hedden@cengage.com www.gale.com, www.cengage.com blog.gale.com/subject-searching accidental-taxonomist.blogspot.com Questions/Contact 35

Editor's Notes

  1. This is more detail than what customers usually see, but they still benefit.
  2. Subject Guide
  3. Gale
  4. ProQuest
  5. Refining EBSCO
  6. Refining - Gale
  7. Subjects for discovery linked from specific record, link out to other articles on the subject
  8. Basic search on "Post-traumatic stress disorder" After getting results note limit subjects – different numbers Basic search on "Post-traumatic stress disorder" in Subjects (larger because it includes other Subjects with this phrase) (results in Subject field in Advanced search would be the same) Basic search on "Posttraumatic stress disorder" Subject Guide Post-traumatic stress disorder Note the other term for Childhood post-traumatic stress disorder Expand subdivisions