INFO 247-10
Vocabulary Design
Fall 2019 Syllabus

Dr. Lei Zhang
Office Hours: Email or Zoom by appointment  

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 21, 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 in 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.

This course is designed to help you develop and apply the knowledge and skills in abstract writing, indexing of diverse resources, and taxonomy and thesaurus construction for the organization and retrieval of information-bearing objects. Special purpose collections, intranets, and e-commerce are some examples of settings where vocabulary design is a valuable professional skill.

Course Requirements

Coursework will consist of lectures, readings, online discussions, five assignments, and a final project. 


  • Assignment 1: Image indexing
    Examine the concept-based and content-based image indexing through searching digital image collections. (Supports CLO #1CLO #3CLO #5)
  • Assignment 2: 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 3: 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 4: Facet analysis
    Extract index terms from subject statements and organize these terms into facets. (Supports CLO #2, CLO #5)
  • Assignment 5: 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 including a classified index and an alphabetical index through five phases: domain analysis, term extraction, facet analysis, relationship analysis, and final term selection. Final project is done in groups, with points based on group work and individual contributions. (Supports CLO #2, CLO #4, CLO #5)
  • Discussion and participation
    Provide a substantive response to the discussion topics and respond to other students' postings. (Supports CLO #1, CLO #6)

Course Calendar

Week Topics Assignments

Week 1

Aug 21-25

Introduction to the course Introductions due Aug 25

Week 2

Aug 26-Sept 1

Controlled vs. free indexing languages  

Week 3

Sept 2-8

Image indexing Assignment 1 due Sept 8 

Week 4

Sept 9-15



Week 5

Sept 16-22

Journal indexing

Assignment 2 due Sept 22

Discussion 1 due Sept 22

Week 6

Sept 23-29

Book indexing  

Week 7

Sept 30-Oct 6

Web indexing Assignment 3 due Oct 6

Week 8

Oct 7-13

Domain analysis  

Week 9

Oct 14-20

Term extraction Discussion 2 due Oct 20

Week 10

Oct 21-27

Facet analysis Assignment 4 due Oct 27

Week 11

Oct 28-Nov 3

Relationship analysis  

Week 12

Nov 4-10

Final term selection Assignment 5 due Nov 10

Week 13

Nov 11-17

Taxonomy/thesaurus software  

Week 14

Nov 18-24

Taxonomy/thesaurus evaluation

Discussion 3 due Nov 24  

Week 15

Nov 25-Dec 1

Knowledge organization systems


Week 16

Dec 2-9

Wrap up

Final project due Dec 8

Final project presentation due Dec 9


Assignment Weight
Assignment 1: Image indexing  5%
Assignment 2: Journal indexing & abstracting 15%
Assignment 3: Web indexing 10%
Assignment 4: Facet analysis 12%
Assignment 5: Relationship analysis 12%
Final project: Thesaurus construction 30%
Discussion and participation  16%
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.


Introduction to indexing and abstracting is available as an ebook via SJSU Library.

ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2005 (R2010): Guidelines for the construction, format, and management of monolingual controlled vocabularies is freely available online.

Other readings are 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:

  • 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
  • NISO (2010). ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2005 (R2010): Guidelines for the construction, format, and management of monolingual controlled vocabularies. NISO Press. Available free as online PDF.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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 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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