SUBJECT INDEXING by dfhrf555fcg



                                     SUBJECT INDEXING

These notes are to assist cataloguers and those training them to index correctly. They are derived partly
from Mesh and partly from experience of indexing and using SWIMS.

        1. Call up the Subject Headings in SWIMS in two different ways:
           o First from an item record – the default presentation is Subject Headings (incl. preferred
           o Secondly from the Workspace Manager – the default presentation is Subject Headings
               (All subject types)
           o Look through the various presentations of subject headings and their uses. E. g. (All
               subject types) will tell you what type of heading it is, Mesh, WMesh, RCH etc and how
               many hits there are for each heading; (Exact Match) will give you only the term you type in
               – this is useful for terms such as Child or Adult, where you know that you only need that
               term but normally it will call up hundreds of variants.
           o The presentations which are most useful are Preferred Terms, Exact Match and All
               subject types, but you may also find Retrieve all Variants useful as it will indicate terms
               related to the subject you have typed in – try Mental Disorders as an example; Retrieve
               Preferred Terms will give a list of preferred terms only and if you want to see non-
               preferred terms, look at Subject Heading Search (non-preferred terms only).
           o Orphan Terms are headings which have not been used in cataloguing.

        2. Look at the different types of headings.

               Mesh 2004 was downloaded by FDI. Subsequent changes in the way of additions and
                deletions to Mesh will be dealt with by the Cataloguing Group. See below for updating of
                Mesh by NLM.
               WMesh is Wessex Mesh. These are a number of headings which have been added by us
                over the years to accommodate concepts not included in Mesh, mostly British
                organisations, such as the Department of Health, or concepts peripheral to the interests
                of the NLM, such as Offenders, Mentally Disordered.
               OMesh. These are out-dated terms which used to be allowable in Mesh, such as the old
                form subheadings, now replaced by Publication Types. These should NEVER be used.
               NBT, RCH, Plymouth, Cornwall College etc. These are terms used by libraries who had
                devised their own headings which were brought over by data conversion. These should
                NEVER be used

        3. All headings except Mesh and WMesh should be removed as the catalogue is tidied. If a
           cataloguer finds any heading but these two used in a record, they should be deleted by using
           the “Delete item” icon and replaced by a Mesh or WMesh term.

        4. When selecting a heading for a work being catalogued, only Mesh or WMesh terms should be
           selected, however tempting the alternatives seem to be, this rule is not to be broken.

        5. Although all cataloguers should be tidying individual records as they find them, only the
           Cataloguing Group can tidy Authority Files. When tidying an individual record, you may find
           that a term is repeated as a result of data conversion. Remember to refresh the screen when
           you have deleted a heading as duplicated headings both disappear when one is deleted and
           you may need to put it back in again.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 1 of 12

                                              Stages of indexing

We now move to the principles of how to chose a subject heading when cataloguing. These rules apply
whatever system you are working in.

Cataloguers should assume that they will need 20 minutes to catalogue a new work. This will ensure that
they do not try to rush the work because too short a time is available. Much of this time should be spent in
selecting the classification and subject headings.

Readers often want to see what works are available on a particular subject. If the subject heading has not
been chosen carefully, they will not find all of the material available. The best search strategy will fail if
indexing is poor.

The Analytical or interpretative stage.

       Identify the index-worthy elements.

       Read carefully and understand the title, remembering that titles do not necessarily reflect the
        content of the work.

       Read the chapter headings, and if necessary, also the introduction and any information on the

       Look at the content of the item if there is any ambiguity or doubt about the subject matter.

       Bear in mind the greater specificity of subject matter in grey literature than in general textbooks.

       Look on the title page verso or in Locatorplus on the NLM website for information provided by the
        National Library of Medicine.

       Try a literature search on Medline for the subject and look at the terms used for the articles.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 2 of 12

    The selective stage.

           Understand the meaning of the subject heading. Use MeSH browser
   to look at the scope notes and annotations if the
            term is not clear.

           Use MeSH browser to ensure that all related terms, synonyms etc have been examined.

           Ensure specificity of the term by using any necessary subheadings.

           Check the availability of any subheadings on MeSH browser or Worldview.

           Check consistency of use of the term within the catalogue for earlier editions, related works
            etc, but do not assume that the earlier cataloguer was correct.

           Remember that MeSH is altered every year and that a term you may be familiar with, may
            have been changed.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 3 of 12

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 4 of 12

                              QUALITIES OF THE INDEXING OPERATION


 Indexers must adhere to the content of Mesh and to its cross references. They must follow the hierarchy
                   of the headings (the Trees) and the policies governing their use.


  Indexers must apply these practices consistently, using headings in the same way each time so that a
                 searcher may rely on their practices and even predict their application.


  Indexers are committed to the greatest possible specificity. If the title covers several specific subjects
 indented under a broader heading in one Tree, use up to 3 individual specific headings. If more than 3
specific headings are used, the cataloguer should use the broader heading in that Tree. This applies only
      within the same Tree, across Trees, use specific headings. This also applies to subheadings.


  Indexers must draw on their familiarity with the subject field, use the cataloguer's notes provided and
 differentiate discussion from mere mention of a subject. They should think about where a reader would
                                     expect to look for such a work.


 Indexers should use as many headings as they deem necessary to describe the content of the work.
However, this does not mean that every topic covered needs to be detailed. E. g. the Oxford Textbook of
       Medicine does not need 40 subject headings to cover every possible disease dealt with.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 5 of 12


        The use of the specialty headings is one of the biggest headaches to cataloguers but in most
cases the rules are quite clear

         In the Tree structure of Mesh there are two categories which cause indexing problems, G1 -
Biological Sciences and G2 - Health Occupations. The definition for G1 states “Terms here are almost
never used to describe organs or diseases since the aspects they represent are better expressed as
subheadings.” The definition for G2 states “They are used for the specialties themselves or for the
practitioners of those specialty when there is no Mesh term for the practitioner.” When you read the scope
notes for these terms, it is quite clear that they are describing the practice of that branch of medicine, not
the illnesses dealt with by the practitioners. Scope notes are included in Worldview by calling up the
heading and looking at Details by double-clicking or using the Details icon. They are also on the Mesh

         However, as always, there are some problems. There are some subjects dealt with in books in a
very general way for which the use of a subheading is not appropriate. ANATOMY is one of them. Mesh
expects an indexer to be able to use the subheading, /anatomy & physiology with the organ or system
concerned but this is not possible with a general textbook on anatomy. In this case, where there is no
alternative the G1 heading may be used.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 6 of 12


        Topical subheadings afford a convenient means of grouping together constantly recurring aspects
of a subject, for instance, the anatomy, physiology or pathology of an organ; the cause, epidemiology or
treatment of a disease.

        A topical subheading will always answer the question "What aspect of this main heading is the
author writing about?"

        When indexers have decided on the main headings, they should then consider the standpoint
from which the author treats each subject. This assists the searcher to limit their search only to the aspect
of the main subject which interests them.

       Many books will require more than one subheading to cover their content e.g. LIVER /anatomy
and LIVER /metabolism.

        If the aspects of an item do not fit comfortably into the topical subheadings available to the
category of the main heading, it is preferable to use none rather than a wrong or misleading one.

       No more than 2 subheadings should be used at a time, if more are needed, use just the main
heading with no subheadings.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 7 of 12

                                                Tree Structures

        By using the Mesh Browser, you can familiarise yourself with the Tree Structures. These are
hierarchical arrangements of headings by subject matter, rather than alphabetical arrangements and they
can also be found at the back of printed Mesh.

        The Trees can be used for two purposes. The main one is to look for alternative headings. If you
have selected a heading which seems not quite right, the Tree can lead you to an associated heading
which could fit the topic more closely.

        The other purpose is to check on subheadings which are attached to Trees. Topical subheadings
are assigned both by categories and to specific trees within categories. Indexers are allowed to use for
any main heading only those topical subheadings listed for the category to which the main heading
belongs. Do not try to add a subheading which you think will be useful if it is not in the list assigned to that

        Sometimes a topical subheading assigned legally to a main heading by category makes a
nonsensical combination. It is always necessary to check to ensure that a topical subheading can be used
as specific instructions as to the availability of particular topical subheadings is laid out under each
heading in MeSH browser as well as on Worldview.


D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 8 of 12

                                    Changes to MeSH in recent years

       Experienced cataloguers may expect to add form, geographic and language subheadings to
MeSH headings but these were deleted by NLM some years ago. Instead, additional headings are used
for Geographic terms and Publication Types.

Language is indicated in the Marc record so no provision is made for that and in the event of a library
having a book in a language other than English, the language should be indicated in the notes field.

Some geographic locations are already included in MeSH but these are generally countries. If you wish to
add a local area or town, for instance to indicate a local policy, you should ask your WDC Cataloguing
Group rep to add the locality for you.

Make sure, if you wish to indicate the form of an item, that you use the correct method. In many cases the
SWIMS input page will assist, for instance with audiovisual items it is no longer necessary to add a
Publication type as this is indicated in the Media type field.

If it is necessary to indicate a Publication type, make sure that you chose the heading with [Publication
Type] after it. There is sometimes a Mesh heading with the same name but a different meaning, such as
Atlases. The Mesh heading Atlases should only be used for geographic atlases; the Publication Type is
used for medical works consisting of pictures with explanatory text. Check Mesh Browser or the detailed
page of the subject heading to look at the definition and/or scope note.

If you wish to indicate age-related aspects, you should add the appropriate main heading such as ADULT
or CHILD, PRESCHOOL; the same applies to the term PREGNANCY but note that there are some pre-
coordinated terms such as PREGNANCY IN ADOLESCENCE which may deal with the topic more

Instructions for cataloguers are available in the NLM web pages at which will give more detail on changes to practice
each year.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 9 of 12

                                             INDEXING TOOLS

          In order to index correctly, there are certain tools which it is essential to be familiar with.
Cataloguers should expect to spend 20 minutes on average on cataloguing and classifying a book. Much
of this time should be spent in examining not only the book, but also the tools mentioned below and in
thinking carefully about the match between the selected term and the content of the item being indexed.


Mesh headings are revised every year and it is essential that cataloguers work with the current issue of
each item below.


This may seem obvious, but it is helpful to look at the hard copy for a heading which is elusive. The Tree
structure at the back can be invaluable in leading you away from an alphabetical arrangement to an
hierarchical organisation.

                              The Subject Index to the Wessex Classification.

This contains all headings used in the catalogue to the date of the production of the list. It includes many
cross references, many annotations and definitions from Mesh and some subject headings created locally.
See next section.

                                               Mesh Browser

This is the essential tool for checking on scope notes and correct subheadings. You can also go from a
term in an article in Dialog to a definition if you have tried looking for a subject via a literature search of
articles. Click on the yellow symbol next to the subject heading listed under the article.

                                          NLM Cataloguing Guide

See above for the URL. Some notes are also available at the front of MeSH each year

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 10 of 12

                                     THE WESSEX SUBJECT INDEX

The Wessex Subject Index (WSI) to the Wessex Classification Scheme was created in the 1980s by the
library staff of the then Wessex Region to facilitate the use of the Classification scheme. The decision was
made to stay with Mesh terms but to add new terms which are generally needed to express concepts
concerning the NHS and its organisation.

Wessex Mesh terms.

Occasionally, a new term will be added for an important concept which has not yet been picked up by
Mesh. Wessex Mesh, as the additional terms are called, are based on the construction of Mesh, they are
assigned to a Tree structure, and will have the subheadings assigned to Mesh terms in that tree.
For example, General Practice is the term preferred over Family Practice and will have the same
subheadings added to it.

Cross references and explanatory additions

In addition to the new terms, the Subject Index has tried to be very responsive to the needs of indexers.
Mesh is random in its cross-references and an indexer can often find it frustrating and difficult to find a
correct term. The users of the Wessex Subject Index are encouraged to add cross-references to their own
copies of the index and to report these centrally so that all users can benefit.
The WSI also adds help for classificationists. Where is it considered useful, the NLM Mesh scope notes
have been added. The Tree structure indicators are added to send a classificationist to look for allied
terms and if a term is used in a variety of contexts, the more specific or related aspects are shown
underneath the heading. This only applies if there is no specific term to describe the class mark.

HOUSING                                                           HV900-25
G3 N1
        Accommodation for nurses                                  WX171
        Accommodation for staff                                   WX470
        Design & architecture                                     WX645
        Doss houses                                               HV925
        Hostels                                                   HV925
        Independent living housing                                WM864
        Rent rebate                                               HV247

New terms

If an indexer feels that a new term is necessary to describe a concept not yet covered, they should make a
request to the editorial committee to have this added.

However, if a term already exists in NLM Mesh, and has just not yet been used by the WSI, it can be
selected and used, and if it is felt to be commonly needed, the editorial board should be asked to add it to
the index.

It is intended for the WSI to be updated each year when the new NLM Mesh is issued. Users of the WSI
are asked to keep a record of additions and changes throughout the year and send these to the address
below each January, stating the name and address of the librarian so that if necessary further discussion
can be held. A form which may be used is laid out below and can be modified to suit needs.

The editorial board is the Cataloguing Group of the SWIMS Project Board for the South West NHS
libraries and the e-mail address of the Chair is, all requests for changes and
help should be addressed to her.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 11 of 12

Name of librarian              Name of library service           e-mail address

New subject heading            Reason required                   Already in NLM Mesh?

New cross-reference            Reason required                   Other links to reference needed.

Other corrections needed       Reason required                   Knock-on effects of change?

This table was created as a Word table and should be used simply as the basis for queries you want to
send in. Use any or all of the boxes or add others to explain what you want to add or to point out any

It is suggested that you either write additions and corrections on a hard copy, or add to an electronic
version in a different font colour as you make them. In January each year, either post or e-mail the
corrections, on a form based on this one, to the e-mail address above.

If you want a new cross-reference, please try to think of all the headings it may link to, not just the one
which prompted your request.

Corrections may be simply typing or spelling errors, floating cross-references or confusing instructions.
The knock-on effects will be the necessity to change further headings as a result of the correction.

D:\Docstoc\Working\pdf\ce35c4de-97ec-443f-91f8-643bd3b2cf5e.doc Created 7/7/2004, amended 14/6/2005 and
on 18/4/2006 by Bobby Noyes
Page 12 of 12

To top