INFO 247-01
INFO 247-10
Vocabulary Design
Fall 2017 Syllabus

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

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 23rd, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Survey of principles and practices used to index information-bearing objects such as documents or images. Includes term assignment, review of existing vocabularies, thesaurus design, metadata structures, and automatic and natural language processes.

Course Requirements

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

The following assignments are designed to help you develop and apply the knowledge and skills in abstract writing, indexing of diverse resources, and the techniques in five phases of thesaurus construction. 

  • Discussions
    Provide a substantive response to the discussion topics, respond to other students' postings and further the discussion. (Supports CLO #1, CLO #6)
  • Assignment 1: Journal indexing & abstracting
    Write an abstract for a journal article and index the article with the use of thesaurus. (Supports CLO #1CLO #3CLO #6)
  • Assignment 2: Book indexing
    Create a back-of-the book index for a book chapter. (Supports CLO #1CLO #3)
  • Assignment 3: Image indexing
    Examine the concept-based and content-based image indexing through searching digital image collections. (Supports CLO #1, CLO #3, CLO #5
  • Assignment 4: Web indexing
    Examine the index style and format of A-Z web indexes through established evaluation criteria. (Supports CLO #1, CLO #3, CLO #5)
  • Assignment 5: Facet analysis
    Extract index terms from subject statements and organize these terms into facets. (Supports CLO #2, CLO #5)
  • Assignment 6: Relationship analysis
    Establish the thesaural relationships between the index terms and determine the form of these terms. (Supports CLO #2, CLO #5)
  • Final project: Thesaurus construction
    Design and construct a thesaurus in a domain of your choice, including domain analysis, term extraction, facet analysis, relationship analysis, and final term selection. Include group work and individual reflections. (Supports CLO #2, CLO #4, CLO #5)

Course Calendar

Week   Topic
Aug 23 Introduction to the course
Aug 28 Controlled vs. free indexing languages
Sept 4 Abstracting
Sept 11 Journal indexing
Sept 18 Book indexing
Sept 25 Image indexing 
Oct 2 Web indexing
Oct 9 Domain analysis
Oct 16 Term extraction
Oct 23 Facet analysis
Oct 30 Relationship analysis
Nov 6 Final term selection
Nov 13 Thesaurus software
Nov 20 Multilingual thesauri
Nov 27 Thesaurus evaluation
Dec 4 Taxonomies and ontologies
Wrap up

A course week starts on Monday at 12:00 am Pacific Time (except first week) and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 pm Pacific Time (except last week). 


Assignment Weight
Discussions  15%
Assignment 1: Journal indexing & abstracting 10%
Assignment 2: Book indexing 10%
Assignment 3: Image indexing 5%
Assignment 4: Web indexing 5%
Assignment 5: Facet analysis 10%
Assignment 6: Relationship analysis 10%
Final project: Thesaurus construction 35%
TOTAL 100%

All assignments are due by 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the due date. Grades will be reduced for late work by ten percent per day late. Please contact the instructor prior to a deadline in cases of illness or emergency.

There are two required textbooks. Other 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

INFO 202

Course 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)

INFO 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 such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.


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.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 159884976Xarrow 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 or Informatics) — 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 if you wish to stay in the program. 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

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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