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STANDARDS AND CONVENTIONS USED IN THE THESAURUS

The form and structure of the thesaurus conform to the English version of two standards of the International Organization for Standardization -  ISO 2788[1] and ISO 5964[2].

The terms in the thesaurus comprise Descriptors, also called Preferred terms, which are used for indexing and retrieval, and Non-descriptors, also called Non-preferred terms, which provide additional entry points to the descriptors by way of a "use" reference.

Descriptors and Non-descriptors take the form of a noun or a gerund or a phrase containing a noun or a gerund. In general, descriptors for abstract concepts and entities that are subject to the question "How much?" are in the singular.

Example
  • Asylum
  • Food
Descriptors for concrete entities and entities that can be counted (that are subject to the question "How many?") are in the plural.

Example
  • Refugees
  • Causes of flight
Names of organizations, programmes and treaties are usually given as acronyms, with a "use" reference from the full form of the name.

Example

CSR51 UF Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
AIDS UF Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

For a complete list of acronyms, please refer to this list [PDF]

Spelling and Punctuation

In the English edition, British English is preferred to American English.

Punctuation is kept to a minimum. Apostrophes are omitted in the English version, except in proper names.

Example
  • Childrens centres
  • Womens rights
Hyphens are retained where they would normally be used in compound terms and after prefixes.

Example
  • Afro-Americans
  • Children-at-risk
  • Non-discrimination
  • Self-help projects

Relations

The relationship among the descriptors is expressed in terms of whether they are hierarchically related, that is having a broader / narrower relationship (labelled BT and NT) to each other, or related to each other in a non-hierarchical manner (labelled RT).

All relationships are reciprocal.

Examples of hierarchical relationships:
Human rights
 - NT Civil and political rights
Civil and political rights
 - BT Human rights
 - NT Freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly
 - BT Civil and political rights

Example of a non-hierarchical relationship:
Diseases
 - RT Health
Health
 - RT Diseases

KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS

BTBroader term
NTNarrower term
RTRelated term
SNScope note
UFUse for
USEUse




Notes:
  1. Guidelines for the Establishment and Development of Monolingual Thesauri, 2nd ed, 1986.
  2. Guidelines for the Establishment and Development of Multilingual Thesauri, 1st ed,1985.