Who Chooses The Key Words

Table 2.4.2 shows that there are several different ways of choosing key words. The most common method (used by over fifty per cent of authors) is for them to supply as many words as they choose (within bounds), but sometimes a specified number of words is required (often about six). The next main method (used by about twenty per cent of authors) is for them to choose key words that fit into categories already prescribed by the journal's 'instructions to authors'. Thus, for example, authors generating key words for medical articles often have to select only words from the medical subject headings (MeSH) taxonomy — a structured taxonomy used by MEDLINE. In situations like this the number of words allowed and the number of categories to choose from can vary. Many psychology journals, for example, ask authors to list key words from any of the 5,000 terms that appear in the American Psychological Society's Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms. Finally, key words are sometimes generated automatically at proof stage (as is the case for the Journal of Information Science, where the key words are derived from Library and Information Science Abstracts).

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