FAQs for Controlled Vocabularies

The FAQs are organized according to different vocabularies. You will find the general questions about controlled vocabularies first, followed by FAQs of the different individual vocabularies. You may also check out COAR Controlled Vocabularies Infographic.

General FAQs

  • What is a controlled vocabulary?

A controlled vocabulary is an organized arrangement of words and phrases used to index content and/or to retrieve content through browsing or searching. It typically includes preferred and variant terms and has a defined scope or describes a specific domain. Controlled vocabularies capture the richness of variant terms and promote consistency in preferred terms and the assignment of the same terms to similar content.

  • Why are the controlled vocabularies important?

Controlled vocabularies are beneficial at the indexing process so that  data providers and repositories apply  the same term to refer to the same concept (e.g., person, place or thing) in a consistent way. This helps with  search and discovery of content. Controlled vocabularies guide end-users to formulate their searches better as they may not know the correct term for a given concept. In fact, the most useful function of controlled vocabularies is to gather together variant terms and synonyms for concepts and link concepts in a logical order or organize them into categories. Thus, consolidating many different synonyms into one controlled term increases the number of useful hits returned by the search.

  • What types of controlled vocabularies exist?

There are different types of controlled vocabularies including subject heading lists, controlled lists, synonym ring lists, authority files, taxonomies, alphanumeric classification schemes, thesauri, and ontologies.

  • Which “controlled vocabularies” are most relevant for repositories?

Subject heading lists, authority files, taxonomies, alphanumeric classification schemes and ontologies.

FAQs for Resource Type Vocabularies

  • What does the resource type vocabulary describe ?

The aim of this Controlled Vocabulary is to provide concepts that describe the genre of a digital resource

  • How is the Resource Type Controlled Vocabulary implemented ?

The Resource Type Controlled Vocabulary is using the SKOS standard. Each term has properties for the concept-URI, the definition of the concept, labels in multiple languages and may have relations to terms in other controlled vocabularies. Moreover concepts in this vocabulary are organized in a hierarchical way.

  • How can use the Controlled Vocabulary in repository metadata ?

In order to describe the genre of a digital resource the most appropriate concept should be chosen. It is not necessary to include broader concepts as they are already logically related in the vocabulary. When referring to a concept from the controlled vocabulary the concept-URI must be included and optionally one or more labels associated with the concept.

  • Can I tag a resource with two concepts ?

It is up to a concrete application profile to decide if a resource can be tagged by only one or more concepts.

  • Why the current vocabulary has a complexity in terms of number of vocabulary and hierarchy?

The proposed hierarchy is an attempt to structure all the concepts from a generic down to a granular level. It is however not without contradiction, e.g. to have ‘thesis’ under ‘text’. The vocabulary is going to be recommended in repository metadata guidelines. And it is up to those guidelines to decide to include all concepts or only a subset as long as the original concept-URLs and labels are used.

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