Characteristics of tagging behavior in digitized humanities online collections

Youngok Choi, Sue Yeon Syn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine user tags that describe digitized archival collections in the field of humanities. A collection of 8,310 tags from a digital portal (Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship, NINES) was analyzed to find out what attributes of primary historical resources users described with tags. Tags were categorized to identify which tags describe the content of the resource, the resource itself, and subjective aspects (e.g., usage or emotion). The study's findings revealed that over half were content-related; tags representing opinion, usage context, or self-reference, however, reflected only a small percentage. The study further found that terms related to genre or physical format of a resource were frequently used in describing primary archival resources. It was also learned that nontextual resources had lower numbers of content-related tags and higher numbers of document-related tags than textual resources and bibliographic materials; moreover, textual resources tended to have more user-context-related tags than other resources. These findings help explain users' tagging behavior and resource interpretation in primary resources in the humanities. Such information provided through tags helps information professionals decide to what extent indexing archival and cultural resources should be done for resource description and discovery, and understand users' terminology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1104
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 ASIS&T.


  • cataloging
  • indexing
  • information retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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