Indexing Policy

Definition of Indexing

According to the International Organization for Standardization, indexing is "the act of describing or identifying a document in terms of its subject content". It is one of the key ways in which it can present and organize content to enable users to find the most relevant information for their research. Indexing functions complement other information management tools available to users. These include classification schemes, abstracts and other bibliographic data (such as titles, volume and issue details, and author names). Indexers rely on their subject knowledge to select appropriate index terms from a large controlled vocabulary list of subject terms.

Reasons for an Indexing Policy

  1. Under the 2000 Library Standards developed by the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians, Inc. (PAARL), libraries must provide indexes, for bibliographic control and intellectual access to all library materials.
  2. The purpose of indexing is to provide an easier and more precise access to intellectual content.
  3. Poor indexing practices degrade information retrieval and have serious cost implications.
  4. A well-designed indexing policy will ensure consistency of access to all information resources.

Policy Guidelines

  1. The larger the number of Archives documents to be indexed, the greater will be the requirement to establish priorities among document types to be indexed.
  2. Establish a list of authorized descriptors for consistency.
  3. In indexing web pages, index as many pages as possible, but index main pages, such as welcome and home pages first. In addition, index pages containing:
    • Programs or services in high demand (especially online services);
    • Information about entitlements, rights or obligations;
    • Information about dangers or risks to health, safety or the environment;
    • Information required for understanding major new priorities, laws, policies, programs or services.
  4. Adopt a user-focused approach
    User-focused indexing means the selection of index terms that best reflect the potential ways by which users search for information. This approach suggests that indexers anticipate the type of requests or search strategies users make when looking for information. It requires indexers to have familiarity with their users, their needs and requirements, and good knowledge of the subject collection.
  5. Strike a balance between the concept of exhaustivity and selectivity
    Exhaustive indexing is assigning index terms for all concepts mentioned in the document. This aims to improve the recall of user searches by increasing the number of hits per search. On the other hand, selective indexing, by narrowing down the use of index terms to the major concepts, improves the precision of searching. Fewer results will be retrieved, but they, more likely, will be relevant.
    Achieving a balance is done by assigning enough terms to ensure a suitable number of access points to the document but not so many as to lessen the relevance of the results to the users.

Level of Specificity

The concept of Specificity refers to "how precisely the indexing language describes the concepts and subjects in a document."

  • To represent a concept or a subject, be as specific as the list of authorized descriptors allows you to be.
  • Use as many authorized descriptors as needed to fully describe the contents of an information resource.
  • More than one subject descriptor will be needed to describe most resources
  • Bear in mind that the success of a user’s search depends upon the flexibility of the search facilities and the accuracy of the descriptive information.

Quality Assurance

  • A process of quality assurance should be developed and implemented to support the indexing process, in order to ensure that a particular concept or subject will always be represented in the same way.
  • The quality of indexing is best measured in terms of consistency and accuracy. Consistency is achieved through the agreed standardization of the terms to be used in indexing a collection. Accuracy is usually achieved through a user-focused approach and familiarization with the concepts of exhaustivity and specificity.
  • Indexers should be accountable for consistency and accuracy. Only well-trained indexers should handle indexing functions.
  • Departmental librarians and subject specialists are a good source of expertise and should be consulted.

Risk Assessment

Failure to develop and implement a policy for indexing may result in inconsistencies and inappropriateness of index elements. This would seriously affect the efficiency and quality of information retrieval. Indexing is likely to have significant costs if the work is not done properly. Revision of incorrectly or inadequately applied terms will increase costs in the long term.

Searching Strategies

Users of archival materials can search information from the Millenium Web OPAC under the following collections:

  • Theses (cover all undergraduate theses and graduate dissertations)
  • Archival Materials referring to records of the institution, such as correspondence and memoranda, minutes of meetings, reports, etc., including academic records, administrative records, legal records and the like, arranged on the basis of the principle of provenance or by the "office of origin" (originating office)
  • Faculty Publications (including unpublished writings of DLSU faculty, current and non-current)

Sources of Vocabulary

US Library of Congress List of Subject Headings (latest edition, 28th, 2005)
US Library of Congress Authorities
SEARS List of Subject Headings (latest edition, 18th, 2004)
UMI PROQUEST Databases: Controlled Subject Terms
UNESCO Thesaurus
ERIC Thesaurus
Roget’s Thesauri
Dictionary of Philippine acronyms and initialisms, 1946-1973 by Sandra Kapunan Repulda
Filipino author's names in AACR 2 headings, compiled and edited by Corazon R. Lim
For Subject Thesauri, see American Society of Indexers Thesauri Online