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Thesauri: practical guidance for construction

McCulloch, E. (2005) Thesauri: practical guidance for construction. Library Review, 54 (7). pp. 403-409. ISSN 0024-2535

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Abstract

Purpose - With the growing recognition that thesauri aid information retrieval, organisations are beginning to adopt, and in many cases, create thesauri. This paper offers some guidance on the construction process. Design/methodology/approach - An opinion piece with a practical focus, based on recent experiences gleaned from consultancy work. Findings - A number of steps can be taken to ensure any thesaurus under construction is fit for purpose. Due consideration is therefore given to aspects such as term selection, structure and notation, thesauri standards, software and Web display issues, thesauri evaluation and maintenance. This paper also notes that creating new subject schemes from scratch, however attractive, contributes to the plethora of terminologies currently in existence and can limit user searching within particular contexts. The decision to create a "new" thesaurus should therefore be taken carefully and observance of standards is paramount. Practical implications - This paper offers advice to assist practitioners in the development of thesauri. Originality/value - Useful guidance for those practitioners new to the area of thesaurus construction is provided, together with an overview of selected key processes involved in the construction of a thesaurus.