LIBR 247-10
Vocabulary Design
Spring 2011 Greensheet

Dr. Ali Shiri
Office phone number: (780)492-5315
Home phone number:
(780) 432-3284
Office Hours: Via email, chat, Elluminate, or telephone 

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

This course is taught online using Angel. The Angel access code for this course will be sent to those enrolled in the class on January 20th. The Angel site for the course will be open for self-enrollment from January 21 to January 24.

Course Description

The course is designed to explore and examine the principles and practice of indexing, abstracting, thesaurus construction, web-based application of thesauri and other types of knowledge organization systems and social organization of information.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 202 required.

Course Objectives

  • To examine and apply the principles of indexing, abstracting and subject analysis.
  • To examine and apply the principles of thesaurus construction and use.
  • To examine thesaurus applications in new indexing environments such as subject gateways, portals and digital libraries
  • To examine the role of social organization of information

This course explores the theory and practice of four core areas of information work: indexing & abstracting; thesaurus construction; the application of thesauri on the Web and social organization of information. The focus for all four areas is the application of principles for effective information retrieval.

LIBR 247 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems;
  • use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information;
  • understand the system of standards and methods used to control and create information structures and apply basic principles involved in the organization and representation of knowledge.

Course Requirements

Course work will consist of written lectures, readings, online discussions, three big assignments, and three smaller assignments. Though the class is designed to support a variety of learning styles, collaboration and sharing ideas is a requirement. 


  1. Online Discussion/Class Participation
    As this class is completely on-line and asynchronous, participation in the weekly ANGEL discussions is essential for success in the course. Weekly postings are due each Friday by midnight. 
  2. Introduction and short biography via Angel
    Students will provide a brief introduction of themselves, including their career goals and their motivation for choosing the course. 
  3. Observations on image indexing
    Students will carry out sample searches on content-based and concept-based image indexing digital image collections and will share their observations on the discussion forum. 
  4. Indexing and abstracting
    Students will create an indexing and abstracting record for a journal article using a web-based thesaurus.
  5. Observation on abstract writing
    Students will write an abstract for a journal article and will compare their abstract with the author-generated abstract and will share their observations on the discussion board.
  6. Thesaurus construction project
    Students will create a small thesaurus for an LIS community using the facet analysis technique.
  7. Social tagging and controlled vocabularies
    Students will discuss and compare social tagging and the use of controlled vocabularies.
  8. Evaluation of Thesaurus-enhanced search systems
    Students will compare and evaluate two operational thesaurus-enhanced search systems in terms of user interface and retrieval.

All assignments are due at 11:59 pm (pacific) on the due date.

Course Calendar






January 26

Introduction to the course: Thesauri, indexing and abstracting, thesauri on the web, relevance


Cleveland & Cleveland

 Chapters 1 – 3


February  2


Indexing: controlled vs. free indexing languages



Cleveland & Cleveland – Chapters 4 (p.35-40), 5 (p.48-55; 61-73 =examples) & 6


February 9


Indexing of imaginative work

Concept-based vs. content-based image indexing



Cleveland & Cleveland – Chapters 8, 11, 12, 15


February 16


Image indexing exercise

Share your observations on the discussion forum




February  23


Abstracting: types and categories of abstracts

Exercise: Write an informative abstract (share your observation on the discussion forum)



Cleveland & Cleveland – Chapters 5 (p.55-60; 74-90 = examples), 7, 17



March  2

Thesaurus construction



-Cleveland & Cleveland – Chapters 4 (p.40-47; 91-96 = examples);


-Aitchison et al. A-C (p.1-16); F2 (p.68-78); E (p.37-48

ASSIGNMENT 1 Due: Indexing and abstracting




March  9


Thesaurus construction: compound terms and relationship types



Aitchison et al. F - F1 (p.49-68)



March  16


Thesaurus construction: term selection

Term selection exercise: forum discussion



Aitchison et al. D (p.17-36)


March  23


Thesaurus software exercise



TheW32 manual


April  6


Thesauri on the web


Shiri, Ali (2000) Thesauri on the Web: current developments  and trends. Online Information Review, Vol. 24, No 4. pp. 273 - 279.

Hudon, Michele. (2003) True and tested products: thesauri on the web. Indexer, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 115 -119


ASSIGNMENT 2 Due : Thesaurus construction project




April  13


Knowledge organization systems in new information environments


-Koch, Traugott (2000). Quality-controlled subject gateways: definitions, typologies,  empirical   overview. Online Information Review, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp.24-34.

-DESIRE information Gateway Handbook. (Section on keywords  and thesauri)

-Miller, Paul. Towards a typology for portals, Paul Miller. Ariadne 37, October 2003.

-Christine L. Borgman (1999). What are Digital Libraries? Competing Visions. Information Processing and Management, Vol 35, No 3,  pp. 227-243.


April  20


User-centred evaluation of thesauri: retrieval and interface


Shiri, Ali Asghar; Revie, Crawford; Chowdhury, Gobinda. (2002) Thesaurus-Enhanced Search  Interfaces. Journal of Information Science. 28(2), pp.111 - 122.

Gantzmann, J. (1990) Criteria for the evaluation of thesaurus software. International Classification, 17(3/4), 148-154; with appendix, p. 155-157  Check-list for thesaurus software. (Section B parts: 3.1 ‘Display on the screen’ and  4.2 ‘Retrieval’)



April  27


Social organization of information:  tagging and bookmarking


Guy, M., and Tonkin, E., Folksonomies - Tidying up tags? D-lib Magazine, January 2006.

Shiri, A. (2009) An Examination of Social Tagging Interface Features and Functionalities: An Analytical Comparison. Online Information Review, 33(5), 901 - 919.


May  4


Thesaurus-based search lab




May 11


Wrap-up and final assignment



ASSIGNMENT 3 Due: Evaluation of thesaurus-enhanced search systems



Course Grading



Due date

Online discussion/class participation



Introductions/Short Biography via Angel



January 26

Observations on image indexing


Feb 16

Observations on abstract writing


Feb 23

Indexing and abstracting


March 2

Thesaurus construction


April 6

Social tagging and controlled vocabularies


April 27

Evaluation of a thesaurus-enhanced search system


May 11




I will create a discussion forum in Angel for general questions regarding due-dates, structure of assignments, and clarification of concepts. Please post your general questions here so that all students may benefit. Feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbooks:

  • Aitchison, J., Gilchrist, A., & Bawden, D. (2000). Thesaurus construction and use: A practical manual (4th ed.). Routledge. Available through Amazon: 0851424465 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Cleveland, Donald B., & Cleveland, Ana D. (2001). Introduction to Indexing and Abstracting. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1563086417. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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