Term Selection (translation of concepts into the documentary language)


A. Topical subjects (tag 650)

B. Corporate and Conference subjects (tags 610 and 611)

C. Personal name subjects (tag 600)

D. Title subjects (tag 630)

E. Bodies, conferences and texts not yet in existence (tags 610, 611, 630)


The second stage in the indexing process is the translation of the selected concepts into the documentary language of the database, which serves as a bridge between the natural language of the document and the user of the database. The main type of documentary language used in UN libraries' indexing practice is the UNBIS Thesaurus, supplemented by Name Authority records established during the indexing process.

Thesauri consist of single string terms, also called descriptors, and provide rigorously defined semantic relationships among the terms. Term relationships include references between preferred and non-preferred terms (use/used for references) as well as hierarchical (broader/narrower term) and associative (related term) references among valid terms. Scope notes are often included to provide guidance in the appropriate use of terms.

The UNBIS Thesaurus provides a consolidated list of terms (including topical descriptors and major geographic names) for describing UN documents and other materials relevant to UN programmes, activities and interests.

Indexers should be attentive to the development of new topics and terminology in UN documents. If the terms available in the Thesaurus do not adequately describe the concepts in documents, then new terms or changes to existing terms may be proposed for consideration by Dag Hammarskjöld Library's Thesaurus Committee (see also Part A (iii), "When to propose new terms").

If a concept is determined to be a corporate, conference, personal name or title subject, the indexer selects the appropriate name as it has been established in a Name Authority record, or creates a new Name Authority record if necessary. Certain terms of an administrative nature may be coordinated with corporate or conference name subjects instead of, or in addition to, topical subject terms selected from UNBIS Thesaurus (see Part B for more information about use of corporate and conference subjects). Indexers should also bear in mind that while the UNBIS Thesaurus contains names of countries and major geographic regions, many geographic names are not established as Thesaurus terms but as Geographic Subject Authority records.

While selecting terms to represent the subject content of documents, indexers should also consider adding Summary/Annotation Notes (tag 520) whenever the specific subject content is not clear from the title, variant title, or contents notes.

They should also consider selecting Content Codes (tag 089) that may be appropriate for certain document contents.

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Last updated: 10 June 2009