In the realm of controlled vocabularies, there are a large number out there. The Library of Congress has gathered commonly found authority data and presented it as linked data so that it is readable both machines and people. This is the LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies. It includes access to preservation controlled vocabularies, MARC relators, or LC subject headings for example. If you haven’t visited this site, I recommend it. Even if you are not implemented data as linked, this site is just a convenient way to search and discover the term you need.

In a similar vein, I came across another authority data project called HIVE or Helping with Interdisciplinary Vocabulary Engineering. This is a two year project from the UNC Metadata Research Center and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. The brief description provided is:

Helping Interdisciplinary Vocabulary Engineering(HIVE) is an IMLS funded project involving the Metadata Research Center (MRC) at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina. Below you will find our experimental, yet fully functioning HIVE system. You are welcome to try our SKOS-based system by browsing concepts from interdisciplinary vocabularies or experience a new approach to automatic metadata generation by using the indexing feature.

First off this is a demo. As a demo, there are a couple of kinks. Sometimes pages don’t load. The “contact us” didn’t work. Also, the last update dates back to 2011. It does look from their project page at UNC MRC that the project is still ongoing. With this in mind, the HIVE still offers two cool features – access to controlled vocabularies and an index service. The HIVE demo offers access to the following vocabularies: AGROVOC, ITIS, LCSH, MeSH, NBII, TGN. You can search all at once or an individual controlled vocabulary. This is a convenient way to discover and search controlled vocabularies.The most interesting feature is found under the tab “Index”. Here you can upload a document or add a link, select any number of controlled vocabulary, and the Index provides a number of terms from the controlled vocabularies selected.

The example I used was from this url,, which is the page for Pyenson N, Goldbogen J, Shadwick R (2012) Data from: Mandible allometry in extant and fossil Balaenopteridae (Cetacea: Mammalia): the largest vertebrate skeletal element and its role in rorqual lunge-feeding. Dryad Digital Repository. doi:10.5061/dryad.bt739. The Index yielded the following:

Notice that each controlled vocabulary is color coded. Of course, this has a lot of bugs. It is necessary to carefully consider each term. However, this is a great idea that can help many researchers get started in assigning standard authority data to their data sets.

Give this a try and send in your thoughts to UNC’s MRC at



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