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Subjective aspects in the thematic representation of photographic images

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This paper aims to present the results of an analysis about the subjectivity in the process of thematic representation of photographs.


The experiments were applied to students of the Course of Librarianship (Biblioteconomia) of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, during the discipline “thematic representation of images”. The methodology included two methods of analysis: in free form and using four methodologies: the methods of Panofsky (1979), Smit (1996), Shatford (1986) and Manini (2002).


The results showed that subjectivity is always present, even with the use of methodologies.

Research limitations/implications

This paper shows the importance of doing the librarian course and the need to improve and update their methods, standards, techniques and tools to provide subsidies for the normalization of subject analysis as an essential procedure for information retrieval.

Practical implications

It is concluded that thematic representation of images requires clear and detailed indexation policies that can systematize the activity and minimize the effects of the subjectivity involved.

Social implications

The determination of the subject of the document involves many factors. One of them is the cognition of the indexer, which is influenced by his prior knowledge, limitations and biases about the context. However, it must take into account, above all, the social reality of the user, as the main purpose of the representation is the retrieval of information.


This study contributes to reaffirm the importance of the indexing discipline in vocational training in librarianship courses, emphasizing the cognitive aspects to which the indexer will be subject.
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Keywords: Cognitive aspects in indexing; Indexing photographs; Normalization in subject analysis; Representation of images; Representation of photographs; Teaching indexing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departamento de Organização e Tratamento da Informação, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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