For a while now, HeinOnline has assigned topics to each article in the Law Journal Library database. This allows researchers to get a general idea of the scope of the article before they dive in any further or to search or browse for additional articles on that topic. Over 1,500 topics are available and are assigned using a combination of human curation along with natural language processing and machine learning,
Hein recently announced that they had broadened this topical taxonomy. The same topics are available, but they’re now organized into a logical hierarchy that allows users to drill down from broader categories and subjects to their specific topics of interest.
Hein offers this example: In the visual below, the category of “Social Sciences” breaks down into subjects like “Criminal Justice” and “Gender and Sexuality,” which further break down into more specific topics, like “Victims’ Rights” and “Gender Identity.”
Now, both subjects and topics are displayed for each article as shown below. For several of my articles, I noticed that some of the topics seemed incorrect or incomplete. Fortunately, clicking on the ? icon next to the topic opens a dialog box where you can suggest topic changes. For example, for the article below, I suggested that the topic “indigenous peoples” be added and few others removed.
Although it is not now available, Hein is exploring adding a subject ranking feature that would enable researchers to view the most cited authors and articles by subject area.