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Bull Med Libr Assoc. Jan 1964; 52(1): 142–147.
PMCID: PMC198083
KWIC... Is It Quick?
Robert F. Lewis, Head
Public Services Division, Biomedical Library, University of California Center for the Health Sciences, Los Angeles, California
Abstract
In recent months several widely circulated publications have exploited the concept of key-word-in-context (KWIC) indexing. Indexes prepared through KWIC techniques are based entirely on the permuted titles of material to be analyzed and are produced at high speed with the aid of electronic computers. KWIC indexes appear to have been received with approval by scientists, whereas many librarians regard them with misgivings and are concerned about the discontinuance of certain earlier conventional subject indexes. This paper presents some of the difficulties encountered by reference librarians who have used KWIC indexes in the course of their work. A simple exercise is described which tests the speed with which a KWIC and two other indexes lead to the solution of selected reference problems. KWIC proved to be a tool which led quickly to the desired information.
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