Engineering Information (EI)

Case Study – Engineering Information (Ei)

The Need:

In response to rapid advancement in the engineering sciences, Engineering Information released the 4th edition of the Ei Thesaurus in 2001. However, as we all know, the engineering sciences don’t stay still – they continue to advance rapidly. As engineering literature proliferates, it both reflects the existence of new engineering fields and topics, and at the same time is instrumental in their development. As a result, the Ei Thesaurus suffered from significant gaps – gaps that can lead to customer complaints and lost revenues. Additionally, any project to update an integral tool had to fit into tight publishing deadlines.


Engineering Information, Inc., also known as Ei, rightfully describes itself as “the leader in providing online information, knowledge and support to engineering researchers. We provide information research tools specifically focused on the content and intelligence that engineering researchers need to stay informed and a step ahead of the competition.”

The Ei Thesaurus is a key element of these services, providing the taxonomy and classifications used for categorizing over 600,000 engineering documents each year. Engineering researchers rely on these categorizations, and on the Ei Thesaurus itself, in searching for articles and papers that are directly relevant to their research.

These searches are performed in Compendex, the database with which the Ei Thesaurus is linked. Ei describes Compendex as “the most comprehensive database of engineering research available, making it the worldwide standard for engineering research.” Compendex covers more than 5,600 serial sources each year and contains well over 10 million records.

The Solution:

In 2006, Ei subject matter experts started working closely with Access Innovations to update, augment, and organize the Ei Thesaurus. This involved reviewing search strings entered by Compendex users, as well as author- and indexer-assigned keywords that weren’t in the thesaurus. Ultimately, 1,075 carefully chosen terms were added, reflecting such expanding areas as bioceramics, fuzzy logic, nanosensors, polyblends, and tissue engineering.

With the addition of new terms, Ei and Access Innovations took the opportunity to restructure the thesaurus, making it far more logical and navigable. Terms that formerly had been at the top level of the thesaurus were grouped together and arranged hierarchically, with careful consideration of where an engineer or scientist might logically look for each term.

Additionally, Access Innovations identified a need for significant updating of the widely used CAL Classification Codes. (The Classification Codes are used for faceted grouping of the Ei thesaurus terms, enabling a searcher to retrieve records reflecting an entire area.) Codes were added for such areas as materials science, microfluidics, and nanotechnology. Access Innovations and Ei worked together to develop updated categories and descriptions, and Access Innovations associated the new classification codes with new and old thesaurus terms.

Initially, all thesaurus development for the 5th Edition of the Ei Thesaurus was done at Access Innovations, with taxonomists using Thesaurus Master software. The flexibility and versatility of this software, enabling the user to easily craft and maneuver through a term hierarchy, simplified the thesaurus update. Ei purchased the software and Ei subject matter experts quickly learned how to use Thesaurus Master and were able to refine and expand the thesaurus on their own. Thesaurus Master enabled Ei to update their thesaurus with the completeness and accuracy expected of a leader in the information provider industry.

Ei published the new thesaurus and classification codes in print and online in February of 2007.

“It was an excellent working team. The Ei people were very responsive and we came in, as usual, on time and under budget,” stated Marjorie Hlava, President of Access Innovations.

The Outcome:

The work performed by Access Innovations was done successfully within Ei’s tight publication deadline. Users can now more quickly, easily, and reliably locate Ei content for purchase. Thus, Ei received a two-fold benefit from their new thesaurus: more satisfied customers and increased revenues.