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Type of terminology resources

Five main types of resources have been identified during the inventory phase launched for the D4.1. These types are organised according their level of complexity:

  • Simple list of terms
  • Glossary
  • Classification/taxonomy
  • Thesaurus
  • Ontology

Simple list of terms

The simple list of terms could be assimilated to a controlled vocabulary. A controlled vocabulary is a list of terms that have been explicitly enumerated. This list is controlled by and is available from a controlled vocabulary registration authority. All terms in a controlled vocabulary should have an unambiguous, non-redundant definition.


A glossary is an alphabetical list of terms of a specific domain where each term has a definition or an explanation. The glossary, despite some common features, is not a dictionary or a lexicon. It often concerns a very specific or technical domain and is generally dedicated to non-experts for giving definition of very technical terms in a simplified way. A glossary could be multilingual.


Classifications2 are originally specific to library science and mainly used for cataloguing: a classification is a system of coding and organizing the knowledge. Classifications don’t allow assigning an object to several classes while thesauri allow assigning several terms to one object.


A thesaurus could be defined as “a networked collection of controlled vocabulary terms”. Thesauri allow connecting the terms via several types of relationships which can be hierarchical, associative, equivalence or definition. This means that a thesaurus uses associative relationships in addition to parent-child relationships. A parent-child relationship is expressed by a Broader Term (BT) /Narrower Term (NT) feature. Associative relationships in a thesaurus such as “Related Term” (RT) (e.g. term A is related to term B) are used to express relationships that are neither hierarchical nor equivalent. Equivalence is expressed by the USE (e.g. preferred term)/ Used For (UF) (e.g. non-preferred term). Additional information such as definition or remark can be included in a Scope Note (SN). The equivalence relationship is especially useful within multilingual thesauri.


An ontology is a formal representation of a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts. Ontologies are the main kind of resource used for the Semantic Web or Knowledge management as a knowledge representation. The concepts are linked together by hierarchical relationships in one hand and semantic relationships in another hand.

ISO Standards for thesaurus building

ISO 29764:2010 : Thesauri and interoperability with other vocabularies -- Part 1: Thesauri for information retrieval

ISO 2788:1986: Guidelines for the establishment and development of monolingual thesauri

This standard recognized by the International Organization for Standardization consists of recommendations for the establishment and development of consistent indexing practice within an organization or a consortium. The standard assumes that indexing is being done by humans using natural language to select indexing terms. It is most suitable for cataloguing and descriptive metadata. The standard only deals with monolingual thesauri and is based on the use of preferred terms or indexing terms and non-preferred terms or synonyms.

ISO 5964: 1985: Guidelines for the establishment and development of multilingual thesauri

This ISO standard extends the scope of ISO 2788 to cover particular considerations for multilingual thesauri development for the establishment of consistent indexing practice within an organization or consortium. Like ISO 2788, the standard assumes that indexing is being done by humans using normal language, and is based on the concept of preferred terms or indexing terms and non-preferred terms or synonyms. The standard covers general problems, language problems and management decisions required when establishing a multilingual thesaurus. It considers the issues of vocabulary control, establishing equivalent terms across different languages, relationship between terms, display of terms and relationships, form and contents and organization of work.

ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2003: Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri

This Standard presents guidelines and conventions for the contents, display, construction, testing, maintenance, and management of thesauri. It covers all aspects of constructing thesauri including extensive rules and guidelines for term selection and format, the use of compound terms, and establishing and displaying various types of relationships among terms. This standard focuses on monolingual thesauri; it has been revised in 2005 in order to extend its scope to controlled vocabularies e.g. lists of controlled terms, taxonomies, thesauri.

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