Classification, indexing and abstracting can all be regarded as summarisations of the content of a document. A model of text comprehension by indexers (including classifiers and abstractors) is presented, based on task descriptions which indicate that the comprehension of text for indexing differs from normal fluent reading in respect of: operational time constraints, which lead to text being scanned rapidly for perceptual cues to aid gist comprehension; comprehension being task oriented rather than learning oriented, and being followed immediately by the production of an abstract, index, or classification; and the automaticity of processing of text by experienced indexers working within a restricted range of text types. The evidence for the interplay of perceptual and conceptual processing of text under conditions of rapid scanning is reviewed. The allocation of mental resources to text processing is discussed, and a cognitive process model of abstracting, indexing and classification is described.
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