– The purpose of this paper is to investigate the behaviour preferences and patterns of the organisation of information by taggers, including usage of tags, tag categories and implicit patterns embedded in social tags.
– The sample was 4,390 social tags (1,777 unique) from 1,661 articles published in 16 library and information science journals selected from CiteULike between February and March 2011. Using application profiles, a tag category model served as a framework to develop two sets of hybrid tag categories for analysing the distribution of tag categories and their implicit patterns.
– The frequency of tag categories was consistent with that of individual tags and obeyed a power law distribution. In total, six implicit patterns embedded in tags – syntactical, semantic, mnemonic, genre, contextual hybrid relations and split term – were discovered.
– Although this study focused solely on investigating taggers' behaviour preferences and patterns, the results of this study may shed light on tagging practice, query formulation and construction of controlled vocabularies.
– A set of hybrid tag categories consisting of title, function, content and topic‐related categories is proposed to delineate the distribution of social tags and taggers' behaviour preferences, and implicit patterns embedded in tags are generalised. These patterns may be useful for tagging practice, query formulation and construction of controlled vocabularies.