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Indexing policy in a collaborative environment: an analysis in Brazilian digital libraries

One of the challenges in the area of Knowledge Organization and Representation is to follow the dynamics of document treatment in the face of the technological and cultural changes of these days. One of the main changes in document treatment comes from the organizing and sharing of digital resources carried out by collaborators in digital realms. Despite some benefits, several embodied are still looked at from shy eyes in the digital realm, if such discussions ever come to pass. The indexing policy is one of those topics that receive little attention within the specialized literature when the issue is the digital realm, especially when one adds to the discussion the collaborative ways of information representation and retrieval. This new reality experienced in the theoretical and applied domains points towards the application of principles that may solve the problems and challenges come from the representation changes and the information access. So, essential is the ongoing construction of guidelines that satisfy all the aspects and elements involved in this process as a guiding principle, so as to constitute an indexing policy that may be compatible with the present reality of digital libraries in the era of collaborative representation and search in remote systems of information retrieval by topic. The applicability of an indexing policy is of vital importance for a better thematic representation and retrieval in the context of libraries that use the traditional approach of indexing processes carried out by librarians. Nevertheless, studies about indexing policies for collaborative environments are just beginning, although the participation of users in the representation of a subject is a common reality in the present library-economy context. The aim of this study was to analyze the presence of the indexing policy in collaborative environments compared to the inherent specific issues that surround the social indexing carried out by collaborators for the thematic representation of the documents. Digital libraries of thesis and dissertations of Brazilian public universities were approached as being venues where one analyzes and discusses the elements in the indexing policy, from the elaboration to the evaluation in the face of a higher level of complexity required for the adoption of norms and guidelines inherent to the indexing process in a collaborative environment. It was verified that most of the digital libraries analyzed do not have an indexing policy that supports the contemporary practice of indexing in collaborative environments, that is, there are no guidelines or norms directed to the social and normative aspects of information organization in this context. A general view may find important new alternatives of knowledge production about an indexing policy that is built collectively, which will turn this resource into something functional and vital for collaborative digital environments. In a complementary way, studies coming along with this approach are crucial in the realm of Knowledge Organization and Representation, for they may give rise to the ripening of that theme and contribute for the filling in of conceptual blanks and create guidelines of indexing policies that are built inside the social indexing process.

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