The IASSIST 2013 Conference, this year hosted (marvellously) by GESIS in Cologne, from 29th – 31st May, saw an interesting and wide-ranging discussion of social science thesauri during its Friday morning ‘Integrated Efforts’ session.

The session, chaired by Jennifer Doty from Emory University, began with a presentation from myself on the Jisc project we undertook at the UK Data Archive during 2012/13 to apply SKOS to HASSET, our Humanities and Social Science Thesaurus.  (There is more information about this project on our SKOS-HASSET blog.)  As this project laid the groundwork for our new project, CESSDA-ELSST, funded by the ESRC, the presentation then went on to describe the aims of, and progress made so far in, this current and larger piece of work.  The CESSDA-ELSST project will re-imagine the applications and processes we use to manage, distribute and interact with both HASSET and ELSST.  We are in the early stages of all this work.  The PowerPoint of the presentation is available on both the UK Data Arcive website: Innovation in thesaurus management.

We also heard from Bodil Stenvig (DDA) and Elisabeth Strandhagen (SND), who explained how the Nordic Archives are working together to pursue the capture and preservation of health data from their respective countries.  It was an interesting talk and a wise reminder about how closely the domains of social science and health can be – this being of particular relevance to a thesaurus!

Lastly, Katrin Baum and Andreas Kempf from GESIS gave an insightful talk about  various ways of working with international thesauri.  They presented work they had done to link the core concepts of ELSST to their locally-specific set of terms.  This gave much food for thought and has inspired the Thesaurus Team at the UK Data Archive to give serious consideration to the idea of mapping.  We still intend to make local extension functionality available, if organisations need it; however, capitalising on the functionality of SKOS, which allows both for interaction between thesauri and for the capture of concept relationships, seems to make sense.  With SKOS-ELSST as one of our deliverables, this is possibly something that we could pursue.  Watch this space for more news on that front!

Lastly, it was really good to make contact with international colleagues who are interested in ELSST.  We’re looking forward to taking forward the work of the CESSDA-ELSST project and will share more information as soon as possible.

Lucy Bell
Management Information Manager
UK Data Service

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