The Necessity of Using Keywords for Oral History Sources (Part I)

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


One of the necessities of writing any scientific and research text is to prepare and insert keywords.

Keywords are words or phrases that are derived from text and are related to the main topic, and by considering them, one can understand the content of the text briefly. In fact, keywords are the titles of minor issue that increase the speed and amount of utilization of text.

Keywords also help to standardize texts in databases and cyberspace, and facilitate availability of texts for readers.

Accordingly, the insertion of keywords in the margins of oral history interviews, like any other research work, is a scientific and professional necessity.

In recent years, as the number of institutions and activists in oral history and the diversity of historiographical projects increased, we are faced with a large volume of oral sources, some of which have been archived without keywords or with incomplete and inaccurate keywords. This situation has caused the utilization of the mentioned resources to be faced with serious obstacles and difficulties.

Various assumptions have been made about the reasons for this situation, including the lack of research prospects, lack of knowledge of the dimensions and details of work, lack of financial resources, and political and security classifications.

However, as time passed and the volume of interviews and the diversity of historical data increased, the necessity of using resources has become clearer, and since it is not possible to study all the works, it is necessary to understand the sources by studying the keywords.

Obviously, after transcribing an interview, the keywords of oral history sources are selected by interviewer during the first edition. Of course, some institutions require colleagues to select keywords from the same list by providing a list of thematic words and thematic combinations, which is effective in facilitating the work. However, in some cases, the keywords will be longer than the previous list due to discussions outside of the main topics.

The important point in preparing the keywords of oral resources is that the insertion of general and universal words should be avoided. For example, the titles "Oral History", "Memory", "Islamic Revolution" and "Sacred Defense" cannot be used. Keywords should be as an overseer of details of the text, such as "Qasr Prison," "Printing the Declaration," "Operation Fath Al-Mubin," or "Mosul Camp."

The number of keywords in each interview should not exceed five to seven, unless in exceptional cases, otherwise it will damage the structure of text and how to utilize it.


To be continued…

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