The word association test in the methodology of thesaurus construction


  • Marianne Lykke Nielsen



This paper analyzes the word association test and discusses whether that method should be included in the process of construction of searching thesauri. The first part of the paper describes the searching thesaurus: its definition and function in information retrieval. In the next part the methodology of the word association test is described and discussed in relation to thesaurus construction. The focus of the investigation is on whether the association test is suitable for identification of the specific language use of a limited user group and for identification of synonyms and near-synonyms. The results of three projects, concerning the use of the word association test for thesaurus construction, are reported. It is concluded that the test is a valuable method in the methodology of thesaurus construction. The association test elucidates the use of language of a specific, limited user group and identifies relevant relationships between words. The test, however, does not reveal the context and meaning of the analyzed words. It is thus recommended that the word association test is combined with more qualitative methods.