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Dissertation Information for Jens-Erik Mai

- Jens-Erik Mai

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- University of Texas, Austin (USA) (2000)

- Francis L. Miksa

- Philip Doty
- E. Glynn Harmon
- Ruth Ann Palmquist
- Aloysius Patrick Martinich

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: The subject indexing process: An investigation of problems in knowledge representation

Abstract: The present dissertation is an attempt to explain at least some of the major problems related to subject indexing, that is, the subject representation of documents. In the process of doing so a new approach to the subject indexing process is proposed. This dissertation enters the discussion of how the subject matter of a document is determined from the standpoint that subjects are culturally and socially dependent.

Common approaches to the study of indexing have been to study how indexers index or to prescribe how indexers should index, with the goal of describing the rules of indexing or prescribing a universal and objective way which indexing should be carried out. Here it is argued that it is not possible to prescribe how indexing should be done and that there are no universal and correct ways of indexing which can be applied to any given situation. Studies of how indexing is done must be based on an understanding of how one arrives at the meaning of a given set of human communicative symbols.

The subject indexing process is ordinarily described as a process that takes a number of steps. Here, however, it is argued that this typical approach characteristically lacks an understanding of what the central nature of the process is. Indexing is not a neutral and objective representation of a document's subject matter but the representation of an interpretation of a document for future use.

Semiotics, based on key ideas found in Charles Sanders Peirce's writings, is offered here as a framework for understanding the "interpretive" nature of the subject indexing process. Peirce's semiotics offers an especially valuable terminology for describing the different kinds of interpretation that takes place throughout the subject indexing process. By placing the subject indexing process within Peirce's semiotic framework of ideas and terminology, a more detailed description of the process is offered here than has been previously possible. While this attempt to show what occurs in the subject indexing process offers a more realistic view of what actually happens in the process, it also suggests strongly that there is no certainty to the result of the subject indexing process.

MPACT Scores for Jens-Erik Mai

A = 0
C = 4
A+C = 4
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2009-06-16 19:05:08

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Students under Jens-Erik Mai

- None

- Joseph T. Tennis - University of Washington, Seattle (2005)
- Martha Kellogg Smith - University of Washington, Seattle (2006)
- Melanie Feinberg - University of Washington, Seattle (2008)
- Ok nam Park - University of Washington, Seattle (2008)