The selection routine is a formal decision tree that represents the intuitive rules searchers use when they select search keys, textwords or descriptors. The case study method provided the data through: (1) observation of 47 professional online searchers performing their job-related searches; and (2) analysis of verbal and search protocols involved. Each option in the selection of search keys presents the use of a certain combination of textwords and descriptors which searchers choose because of request or database requirements, or because of their own beliefs. The routine delineates the terminological conditions which lead to the selection of each option. It is the first formal presentation of human knowledge that can be incorporated into the knowledge base of intermediary expert systems
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