LIBR 247-10
Vocabulary Design
Fall 2014 Greensheet

Dr. Lei Zhang
Office Hours: Email, Blackboard IM, and Collaborate by appointment 

Greensheet Links
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: This course will be available beginning Monday, August 25. You will be enrolled into the site automatically.

Course Description

This course is to explore and examine the principles and practices of indexing, abstracting, and thesaurus construction, the design of vocabularies used to organize and retrieve information-bearing objects such as documents or images.

Course Requirements

Course work will consist of video lectures, readings, online discussions, assignments, and a final project. 

You are expected to provide substantive and constructive response to the discussion topics, and read others' postings and contribute to the discussion. You will complete a set of assignments designed to help you develop and apply the knowledge and skills in indexing and abstracting of different resources, and the techniques in different stages of thesaurus construction. Finally, in a group, you will build a thesaurus in a domain of your choice.

Course Calendar
The brief version below is tentative. A final and detailed verison will be provided in the Canvas site.

Week Topic SLO
Aug 25 Introduction to the course SLO#1, SLO#2
Sep 1 Controlled vs. free indexing languages SLO#1, SLO#2
Sep 8 Abstracting SLO#1, SLO#6
Sep 15  Journal indexing  SLO#1SLO#3
Sep 22 Book indexing SLO#1SLO#3
Sep 29 Image indexing SLO#1SLO#3SLO#5
Oct 6 Domain analysis  SLO#4 
Oct 13 Term extraction SLO#4, SLO#5 
Oct 20 Facet analysis SLO#2, SLO#5
Oct 27 Relationship analysis SLO#2SLO#5  
Nov 3 Final term selection SLO#2SLO#4SLO#5
Nov 10 Application and evaluation SLO#4SLO#5SLO#6
Nov 17 Knowledge organization systems SLO#5SLO#6 
Nov 24 Current trends SLO#5, SLO#6
Dec 1 Wrap-up SLO#1SLO#2, SLO#3SLO#4SLO#5

Each course week starts on Monday at 12:00 am Pacific Time and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. All assignments are due at 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the due date. 


Assignment Weight Due Date
Online discussion  15% Sundays
Assignment 1: Abstracting 10% Sep 14
Assignment 2: Journal indexing 10% Sep 21
Assignment 3: Book indexing 10% Sep 28
Assignment 4: Image indexing 5% Oct 5
Assignment 5: Facet analysis 5% Oct 26
Assignment 6: Relationship analysis 5% Nov 2
Assignment 7: Final term selection 5% Nov 9
Final project: Thesaurus construction 35% Dec 10
TOTAL 100%  

Late assignments will incur a penalty of ten percentage point a day. You should communicate with the instructor for any late work. 

There are two required textbooks. Recommended readings will be provided in Canvas.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

LIBR 202

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply principles of indexing, abstracting, and subject analysis.
  2. Apply the principles of thesaurus structure and use to create a NISO Z39.19-compliant thesaurus.
  3. Differentiate between the design of a single document index and the design of multi-document indexes.
  4. Analyze the information needs of a specific community and design a metadata structure and appropriate vocabularies/taxonomies for a collection useful to that community.
  5. Identify thesaurus applications in new indexing environments such as subject gateways, portals, and digital libraries.
  6. Identify and evaluate the socio-technical dimensions of knowledge organization.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 247 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information, including classification, cataloging, metadata, or other systems.


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, D. B., & Cleveland, A. D. (2013). Introduction to indexing and abstracting (4th ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow 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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