Case Study: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)


IEEE needed to create a five-year update to its thesaurus that is used both to index their publications and to enable enhanced search on IEEE Xplore, their publications portal.  The ultimate goal was improved searching of IEEE’s vast repository of published research and other documentation. The new taxonomy would also be used to structure the content for improved website navigation and data repurposing designed to improve membership retention and increase revenues.


IEEE is the world’s largest engineering association, publishing across all facets of engineering. The organization includes 38 specialized societies and has more than 375,000 members. IEEE publishes over 1,300 standards and has more than two million documents in its electronic library. IEEE sponsors more than 850 conferences each year.


Using Data Harmony’s MAIstro, Access Innovations taxonomists reviewed the IEEE uncontrolled term lists, search logs, and other term collections using an initial sample set of their corpus for the past six years. Access also performed extensive hierarchical structuring of the thesaurus to reflect the technological changes in the engineering fields since the initial thesaurus construction. The editors identified appropriate new terms and placed them into the thesaurus.

The new taxonomy reflected the professional terminology used by IEEE’s more than 40 separate interest groups.  It also enabled IEEE to create and leverage additional semantically-enriched metadata for guided navigation of the content body, in addition to the INSPEC terms and additional controlled terms presently used.  MAIstro, a powerful semantic reasoner,  automatically generated semantic rules for each thesaurus term.  Access Innovations refined the machine-generated rules in the M.A.I. rulebase to enable precise subject indexing.

Elisabeth Moscara of IEEE commented,

“I want to take this time to thank Margie’s and Jay’s staff at Access Innovations for their hard work and professionalism in providing IEEE with an updated thesaurus. They were very helpful in answering any questions I had and provided me with timely e-mails and reports. They also delivered the initial draft of the IEEE Thesaurus one week earlier than projected!”


IEEE used the thesaurus to increase findability within the more than two million documents on their Xplore database. The subject metatags on the documents enable both increased precision and recall, improving the user experience. The immediate benefit was increased productivity in the indexing staff, who are faced with an ever-increasing load of information to process into the database. Adding metadata to the documents enabled multi-faceted searches for users and efficient sorts for repurposing document subsets.

The greatest thing about Access Innovations is the accessibility of the staff at every level, from the CEO on down to the taxonomists. I consider the Access Innovations team as part of my team.”

  • Gerry Grenier, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)