Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Thesauri have been used in the library and information science field to provide a standard descriptor Language for indexers or searchers to use in an information storage and retrieval system. One difficulty has been the maintenance and updating of thesauri considering that terms used to describe concepts in books and papers change over time and vary between users. This study investigated a mechanism by which thesauri can be updated and maintained using citation, co-citation analysis and citation context analysis. It has been demonstrated that citation analysis reflects concepts in a specialty, and reflects term use in a specialty, following the work of Henry Small. This technique of citation context analysis may be used to trace term change in a specialty over time and variation among researchers--the basic pieces of information needed in thesaurus development.;Data bases in sociology and economics were developed using the Social Sciences Citation Indexes, 1966-67, 1973-74 and 1980-81. Twenty-six highly cited and co-cited papers common to these three time periods were then used. Seventy-eight terminology lists were developed from the citation contexts of other papers citing these papers. Two experts in each discipline were asked to group and comment on the lists. The descriptor language produced was compared with a standard descriptor language, i.e., the Library of Congress Subject Headings.;Overall, the experts were able to correctly group and identify these terminology lists and thus were able to identify variation between specialty area terminology. The experts judged a high level of the terms appropriate, i.e., 93.7 percent in economics and 98.7 percent in sociology. The experts were not able to identify any change over time. The comparison with the Library of Congress Subject Headings showed an adequate level of compatibility.;Thus, citation contexts may be a most useful method for developing indexing and thesaural terms descriptive of specialty areas in sociology and economics. Suggestions are given to automate these procedures.



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