[OAI-general] Re: Interoperability - subject classification/terminology (fwd)

Stevan Harnad harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk
Fri, 28 Mar 2003 11:46:40 +0000 (GMT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 19:24:15 -0500
From: David Goodman <dgoodman@PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Reply-To: September 1998 American Scientist Forum
Subject: Re: Interoperability - subject classification/terminology

An  example of an indexing service that uses self-assigned
field descriptors is Dissertation Abstracts. Furthermore, it uses a
controlled list: when you submit your thesis you select your field from a
list. It need not match the name of your department.

Anyone who thinks that this provides reliable subject indexing or scanning
should give it a try. Since recent theses have abstracts, it is possible
to perform a decent subject search using free text techniques to the
extent the abstracts are descriptive. But a scanning service based only on
the category would miss most of the work in most subjects.

I fully expect the academics using the new servers to produce a subject
indexing quagmire, which the librarians and information people will then
have to devise access routes for. It's happened before, and we've done
it before. All we can hope for is that they not make things worse by
reinventing  indexing, or recycling inadequate or outdated systems.
We expect nothing better from any group of  academic authors--after all,
we do just as badly with our own publications.

on Thu,
27 Mar 2003, Hussein Suleman wrote:

> hi
> well, sure, i agree in principle ... if arXiv and similar projects agree
> to bunch of all physics into a single category and use google for
> searching, with no browsing capabilities, it wouldnt be a problem at all.
> similarly, if we grouped together computer science, electrical
> engineering and information systems, that would be ok for gross-level
> interoperability ... once again, assuming searching is the only service
> required. frankfully, i think this is a little simplistic and assumes
> digital libraries are no more than submission+search systems.
> [aside: why does eprints support browsing by catgeories ?]
> besides, who decides what constitutes a discipline anyway ? has anyone
> ever been able to decide if computer science is engineering or science ?
> i think we have more questions than answers here and it isnt as simple
> as you point out or we wouldnt even be discussing this :)
> ttfn,
> ----hussein

Dr. David Goodman

Princeton University Library
Palmer School of Library and Information Science, LIU