AAAS Thesaurus Project


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publishers of Science magazine, contacted us about a thesaurus project in the summer of 2013. AAAS was formed in 1848, and has content going back to at least the 1880s, during which time the language of scientific discourse has expanded and changed a great deal.

Client Information Needs

AAAS was working with only free-text searches on their website, and sought to initiate granular topical indexing and provide a mechanism for subject browsing of electronic content. Dealing with synonymy to cover the changes in terminology was identified early on as crucial to the success of the indexing project.

In addition to Science, AAAS also publishes several specialty journals (Science Signaling and Science Translational Medicine), so the taxonomy needed to address these areas with a high degree of specificity. Since Science covers… well, since it covers all of science, they also leveraged the expertise of a significant number of in-house subject matter experts (SMEs) to review the thesaurus.

Presenting Solutions

By mining AAAS content and other resources for terms, Access Innovations’ team of taxonomists crafted a taxonomy of about 7100 preferred terms and an additional 7100 synonyms covering the entire spectrum of scientific literature. Special attention – and extra granularity – was given to the branches dealing with cell signaling and translational medicine. Also, since AAAS has content covering non-research topics, such as science industry news and employment opportunities, our team added terms to provide good indexing for these articles.

Access Innovations worked extensively with SMEs from AAAS to review and refine the thesaurus, which we delivered to AAAS in February 2014, for integration into their platform.

Next Steps for AAAS Knowledge Base and Web Site Implementation

Access Innovations is working with AAAS to finish the complex rule base for indexing the entirety of AAAS content. Our taxonomists continue to assist with taxonomy management during this phase, while AAAS implements their new thesaurus for immediately enhancing user navigation for the document collection on their Web site.