There has been some interesting debate on the Linked-In CILIP Group about the above subject started by Rosemary Obat, from Kisumu, Kenya
Downside of using controlled vocabulary:
- Indexers take time to document items hence the most recent may not be indexed.
- Search engines have improved so much that a controlled vocabulary is not so necessary now.
- Time taken to assign indexing terms and keep thesaurus up to date – cost benefit analysis needed
- May be overtaken by search engines for indexing but still useful as a behind the scenes map of terminology and to help automated tools add value to database content
Advantages of using controlled vocabularies:
- They pick up different spellings of the same item under one term e.g. English/American and plurals.
- Text searching doesn’t (generally) pick up mis-spellings
- You have to be really inventive to think up all the possible text terms – example given of Hash tags on Twitter.
- If the thesaurus is a good one e.g. for Medline, or Embase then using it as well as text searching is advisable if you want everything on a subject.
- An example: if you want articles on History education rather than the history of Education a thesaurus will simplify the search.
Do we have a controlled vocabulary for this blog? No, it would take too much time for such a small database of posts.
Jean Shaw, Phi