Subject analysis: The critical first stage in indexing

Clara M. Chu, Ann O'brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of indexing neglect the first stage of the process, that is, subject analysis. In this study, novice indexers were asked to analyse three short, popular journal articles; to express the general subject as well as the primary and sec ondary topics in natural language statements; to state what influenced the analysis and to comment on the ease or diffi culty of this process. The factors which influenced the process were: the subject discipline concerned, factual is subjective nature of the text, complexity of the subject, clarity of text, possible support offered by bibliographic apparatus such as title, etc. The findings showed that with the social science and science texts, the general subject could be determined with ease, while this was more difficult with the humanities text. Clear evidence emerged of the importance of bibliographical apparatus in defining the general subject. There was varying difficulty in determining the primary and secondary topics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-454
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Information Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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