Building controlled vocabularies for metadata harmonization


  • Marcie Zaharee

    1. currently works in the MITRE Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems (CIIS) where she is the lead for developing a controlled vocabulary, taxonomy and thesaurus for the intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) community. Marcie joined MITRE in 2005 as the associate department head for information management and practice where she worked to advance knowledge management in MITRE, championing efforts that support staff collaboration, knowledge sharing and strengthening MITRE's knowledge base
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Editor's Summary

Organizations using controlled vocabularies are highly diverse, but they all rely on using a terminology list that is internally standardized, commonly understood and widely applied for metatagging. The basic steps for creating a controlled vocabulary, taxonomy or thesaurus are the same for each case, starting with determining the scope to be covered and identifying representative content sources. This step is followed by gathering and organizing terms, enhancing them with synonyms and relationships and often by subject-matter-expert review. Using a dedicated taxonomy management tool is recommended to facilitate management, visualization and export in machine-readable format such as OWL or SKOS. Posting the controlled vocabulary to a registry or data warehouse enables sharing and may stimulate broad acceptance. The MITRE Corporation has followed this process in developing taxonomies consistent with the Department of Defense's Net-Centric Data Strategy, which bases shared understanding within and among DoD programs on the use of controlled vocabularies and crosswalking equivalent data elements.