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Information science

Information is valuable - it is the key to innovation and self-sustaining development, it educates and is a powerful business resource - as all INSPEC users know!

The three main concepts in information science - data, information and knowledge - form a hierarchy in which every phase upwards generates input for the next one. The discipline started at the beginning of the 20th century with the advent of 'documentation' to deal with the 'literature flood' of 'information explosion' - the number of scientific papers published annually has been doubling at least every 15 years for the last two hundred years. It later centred around retrieval systems, and then in the 1960s, using new technologies (e.g. computers), turned to become 'information science'.

Compilers of databases who produce multiple output products (printed abstracting journals, online databases etc.) employ subject analysis (e.g. classification, subject headings, keywords) for access to the information contained in them. Research on automated access information today typically emphasizes retrieval rather than indexing although much of the work can be applied to indexing. Expert systems use linguistic analysis, but also depend on the development of a knowledge base for the specific subject area of the database. At least two fundamental problems must be confronted to automatically process natural language text:

1. machine 'understanding' of text

2. the richness of the language means that we can probably never account for every alternative means of expressing a concept

Thus, the debate on using natural language or controlled language (thesaurus) terms continues. Also, the evaluation measures still predominantly used for information system performance are "recall" (the proportion of relevant documents that are retrieved) and "precision" (the proportion of retrieved documents that are relevant).

There are a number of interesting trends in the development of library and information systems. The focus is on the importance of networking, user-friendly interfaces and increasingly transferability of data between systems.

The importance of information science is reflected in the INSPEC Database, with most of the relevant information being classified in Section C (Computer & Control Abstracts), Chapter 7200:

C7200: Information Science & documentation (for translation, see C7820)

C7210: Information services and centres (see also D2080, E0430); for viewdata & teletext see B6210K

C7210L: Library automation

C7210N: Information networks (inc. Internet information resources, see also c5620W Other computer networks)

C7220: Generation, dissemination and use of information

C7230: Publishing and reproduction (see also C7108 Desktop publishing, D2105)

C7240: Information analysis and indexing

C7250: Information storage and retrieval (see also D2080)

C7250C: Bibliographic systems

C7250L: Non-bibliographic systems

C7250N: Search engines (inc. browsers and front-end systems for online searching, see also C6155 Computer communications software)

C7250R: Information retrieval techniques

C7260: Information science education

C7290: Other aspects of information science and documentation

INSPEC has a set of controlled indexing terms for information science:

  • information science
  • NT document delivery
  • information analysis
  • information centres
  • information dissemination
  • information needs
  • information retrieval
  • information retrieval systems
  • information services
  • information storage
  • information use
  • vocabulary
  • BT computer applications
  • RT information industry
  • information science education
  • language translation
  • libraries
  • microforms
  • publishing
  • text editing

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