New international controlled vocabulary for resource types

The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) has since early 2014 been developing a controlled vocabulary of scholarly resource types. This work has been coordinated by a special COAR Interest Group  with technical support and expertise provided by the Artificial Intelligence Research (ART) group at  the University of Tor Vergata and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The controlled vocabulary provides hierarchical concepts that describe the genre of scholarly digital resources using the SKOS standard.  Each term has a concept URI, a definition of the concept and labels in multiple languages.  Where there are similar terms in other controlled vocabularies those relationships are made explicit.

By way of example, a still image is described thus: The URI is The definition in English: “A recorded static visual representation. This class of image includes diagrams, drawings, graphs, graphic designs, plans, photographs and prints.”  There are three exact matches in other controlled vocabularies and one broader term.

The process of developing the controlled vocabulary has involved systematically reviewing similar vocabularies or dictionaries including: Datacite, Elsevier Crossmark, CASRAI Dictionary for publications, CERIF Semantic Vocabulary, dcmi_terms, e-LIS, Gateway to Research Data, PubMed, PURE, RIOXX and SWAP.  This means that UK institutions can be assured that any relevant RIOXX elements have been taken into account.

The development of this controlled vocabulary has been an international effort and one of the key benefits of this approach is the multilingual approach to labels and alternative labels.  This enables aggregators to verify records more efficiently.

In practical terms, people creating records in repositories simply select the most appropriate concept to describe the genre of the digital resource being described.  The concept URI must be selected and one or more labels associated with the concept.

Based on community feedback the revised version of the COAR Controlled Vocabulary for Resource Types will be formally released shortly.  The involvement of Jisc in the COAR Interest Group has helped ensure that the interests of the UK HE community have been recognised and accommodated.  In terms of implementation, there has been work to determine how best to deploy the vocabulary in DSpace and a proof-of-concept plugin for EPrints provides the appropriate mapping and will be updated when the vocabulary is formally released.

Further information about the launch of the COAR Controlled Vocabulary will be provided as soon as possible.

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