Social science research students' conceptions of thesauri

Klaus, Helmut (1998) Social science research students' conceptions of thesauri. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


It is widely recognised that meaning and interpretation are fundamental aspects of user-system interaction in the retrieval of specialised information. Important constituents of information retrieval system are thesauri. To identify what understandings of thesauri exist, is crucial to improve instruction of database users and for an assessment of the functioning of thesauri in specialised information. Thesauri as phenomena can be viewed from a techno scientific perspective and a lifeworld perspective. The lifeworld perspective is made up of the collective understanding of those who use them. Lifeworld aspects of thesauri, i.e., how they are understood by social science researchers, have been disclosed by applying phenomenographic research against the background of the hermeneutical constitution of the online dialogue. The phenomenographic interpretative model has been used since its knowledge interest focuses on how techno scientific concepts are conceived of in the lifeworld. This has rendered descriptions of conceptions of thesauri in the form of two main categories: 1) the thesaurus as being separable from the database with the subcategories a) the thesaurus as a control device, and b) as incomplete terminology; 2) the thesaurus as being inseparable from the database with the subcategories of a) descriptors as evaluation criteria, and b) as search enhancers. Based on the configuration of the online dialogue, searching without understanding the thesaurus has also been described in the form of a third, 'empty' category and contrasted with the conceptions of thesauri. The findings represent a contribution to the hermeneutics of the online dialogue, and the results are immediately applicable for the development of discourses in the instruction of end-users and future information professionals. They also provide an empirical argument in support of further conceptual development of thesauri, which strives to make explicit the meaning of descriptors by incorporating terminological and epistemological knowledge, thus integrating domain knowledge into the database search process. The work contained in this thesis has not been previously submitted for a degree or diploma at any other higher education institution. To the best of my knowledge and belief, the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made.

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ID Code: 15916
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Gable, Guy & Bruce, Christine
Keywords: End User Searching, Online Searching, Subject Searching, Information Literacy, Thesauri, Social Sciences, Students, Hermeneutics, Phenomenography
Department: Faculty of Information Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Helmut Klaus
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:52
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:40

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