Unified Astronomy Thesaurus v.1 is here!

Today I am releasing version one of the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT v.1).

The UAT has been completely overhauled; restructured into new top level categories and re-organized throughout.  There have been many major revisions to bring it more inline with the way astronomers and astrophysicists study the universe.

I want to thank Sarah Weissman, Josh Peek, Kayleigh Bohemier, Dianne Dietrich, Jane Holmquist, Barbara Kern, and especially Jill Lagerstrom for all of the work each of you put into revising and updating the thesaurus.  I also want to thank the many researches and scientists who lent their expertise to this project.  Because of all of you, every term in the UAT was looked at, revised, edited, tweaked, or moved.

Version 1 of the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus has 1834 terms, 11 top level categories, a depth of 10 terms, and 319 ‘related term’ links.  For comparison, the beta version of the UAT had 1920 terms, 15 top level categories, a depth of 15 terms, and 224 ‘related term’ links.

In addition to the major restructuring of the UATs top level categories and overall organizational structure, 321 terms were removed, 236 new terms were added, and 95 new ‘related term’ links were added.

All thesaurus views on this website have been updated to UAT v.1.  The beta version can still be accessed via the archived files on GitHub and through the UAT Explorer (choose “beta” from the version drop down menu).

Of course, the work on this project is not finished!  The goal, in fact, is that it will never been finished.  There are still areas in the UAT that could be further improved and new terms that could be added.  We’re always interested in feedback on the UAT, and we have some long term ideas for an expansion that I am very excited about.

In the meantime, I will be presenting the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus at the upcoming AAS meeting in Kissimmie, FL on Wednesday January 6th and 12noon.  Hope to see you there!

Update on the UAT

I just realized it had been a while since my last update!  I’ve been working on the UAT behind the scenes quite a bit lately, though most of it has not been visible so I thought it would be a good time to write another update email.

We’re nearly ready to launch VocBench: After looking at various tools, we landed on VocBench, an open source platform for managing and editing controlled vocabularies.  We’ve spent the last few months getting it ready to go, and we are almost ready to make it public.
This platform will allow users to suggest edits and updates to the UAT, which are then assigned to our team of editors for review, and suggestions that are accepted will be incorporated into a future release.

Recent updates to the UAT website: I spent some time re-organizing the website to make visible some items that have previously been buried.  For example, now you will see the Contribute button right in the menu bar!  For now this button takes you to our contribution form, but once VocBench it launched, it will go there instead.
Also, the download section is no longer hidden under the Thesaurus button.  From there you can download the current RDF file as well as a new flat CSV file.  I’ve also included a link to the UAT GitHub repository, where I’ve been hard at work creating scripts to turn the RDF/SKOS file into the website browsers.

Posters and papers: Alberto Accomazzi, et al, wrote a paper about the UAT project, following a poster he presented at the ADASS XXIII conference.  Currently the paper can be found in arXiv, but it will also be published in an upcoming volume of the ASP Conference Proceedings.
Another poster on the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus was presented in June at the Libraries and Information Services in Astronomy conference, with an upcoming paper also scheduled to be published in a future volume of the ASP Conference Proceedings.

We’re still looking for volunteers to help oversee various branches of the UAT!  If you’re interested in becoming an editor, please let me know.

The UAT at the e-Sciences Symposium

Yesterday, Chris Erdmann (Head Librarian at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and I presented a poster on the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus at the 2014 E-Sciences Symposium, held by the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

UAT at eSciences Symposium 2014
Presented at the 2014 e-Sciences Symposium

We used this poster as an opportunity to introduce VocBench, the thesaurus management tool we have been exploring and testing.

As I mentioned in my previous post, VocBench is a tool that will allow us to receive and manage user suggestions.  A team of editors will review these suggestions and then approve or reject them.  On a regular schedule, the stewarding librarian will release these approved changes in batches, pushing the new content out so that users of the UAT can update their projects accordingly.

We are getting closer to soft launching VocBench so that our editors can test the platform and review the many comments and suggestions we have already received.  Once these comments have been reviewed and decided on, we plan to open VocBench up to receive community input and we will be releasing UAT v1.0.  Stay tuned…!

What’s new with the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus

The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT) is an open, interoperable, and community-supported thesaurus of astronomical and astrophysical concepts and their relationships. It unifies existing divergent and isolated astronomy and astrophysics vocabularies into a single high-quality, freely-available online thesaurus available to publishers, authors, and everyone else an interest in classifying astronomical concepts.

A website (https://astrothesaurus.org) was launched in early 2013 where the UAT can be found in support of these goals. There are three different ways to explore the UAT:
1) a hierarchy browser which shows the terms in context, and lets you drill down through the various branches;
2) an alphabetical browse which can make it easy to discover information on a particular term without knowing beforehand where it might be located in the structure, and
3) a dendrogram, or tree graph, which visually lays out the UAT and lets you expand and collapse terms to to explore the relationships between words.

Additionally, the UAT is available for download in several formats, including RDF and CSV. Please note, however, that since the UAT is still in beta, we expect many changes in the content of the thesaurus before our official version one release.

A second step forward that we have taken has been to reach out to other groups that work with thesauri, specifically AgroVoc and EuroVoc. Both use an open source management platform called VocBench (developed by FAO specifically for ArgroVoc) to maintain and edit their thesauri. The developers of VocBench have aided our group in setting up an in-house trial to test the solution for the development and maintenance of the UAT.

This platform allows multiple users to log in and suggest changes to the UAT, and it also does an excellent job of catching a detailed change history, maintaining the provenance of the term, and tracking where suggestions are originating from. Suggestions made by users of the UAT will be accepted or rejected by our subject specialist editors, then the stewarding librarian will release these changes at regular intervals in versioned batches.

Currently, we are working with a small group of astronomers and astrophysicists who had previously expressed interest in becoming part of the editor team. We will be giving them access to the UAT on the VocBench platform, which will allow them to test the interface and begin making suggestions to improve the UAT. Assuming all goes well, we hope to allow public access to VocBench in 2014. In the meantime, if you wish to view the UAT, you may peruse online browsers at the UAT website or download thesaurus files. Suggestions for the UAT may also be made using the new “Contribute Form” on the website. Comments submitted in this manner will be forwarded to our team of editors for further discussion and inclusion in VocBench.

To express your interest in contributing to the UAT, in developing the UAT, or just to join in the discussion, please join the Google Group: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/uat-users

New Visual Thesaurus Tool

dendrogramI’ve added a third way to view the thesaurus! It’s an interactive visual tool called a dendrogram, built using the D3 JavaScript library. You can click on the nodes for each term to expand or collapse it’s child terms. This allows you to see the over all structure of the thesaurus in a much more fluid and visual way than the hierarchical browser previously implemented.

You can find the new interactive and visual tool under the Thesaurus menu above, or by clicking on this link:


Browse the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus!

Over the last week I’ve added the ability to view the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus from the website. To start browsing through the terms, mouse over the Thesaurus button in the menu above.

You’ll see two options:

  1.   a hierarchical view – see the UAT structure and how terms are related in context; and
  2.   an alphabetical view – navigate to specific terms and learn more about them.

We’re still working to improve these browsing methods and add additional functionality to the website.

Stay tuned!

New Thesaurus Created for the Astronomy Community

The following press release was originally posted by IOP Publishing.

Joint news announcement from: The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System, the American Astronomical Society, the American Institute of Physics, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics John G. Wolbach library, IOP Publishing, and the International Virtual Observatory Alliance.

New thesaurus created for the astronomy community
24 Jan 2013
Bristol, UK

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) and IOP Publishing (IOP) have jointly announced the gift of a new astronomy thesaurus called the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT) to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) that will help improve future information discovery for researchers.

The AAS will make the UAT freely available for development and use within the astronomy community, while ensuring the thesaurus remains relevant and useful. Further development of the UAT will be undertaken by the John G. Wolbach Library at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in collaboration with the Astrophysics Data System (ADS) and the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) to enhance and extend the thesaurus to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the astronomy community.

Continue reading “New Thesaurus Created for the Astronomy Community”

The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus at AAS!

Alberto Accomazzi, Chris Biemesderfer, and Norman Gray presented a poster on the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus at the AAS 221st Meeting in Long Beach California, January 8 2013.


Poster Session Abstract

Creation and Maintenance of a Unified Astronomy Thesaurus

N. Gray, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM; C. Erdmann, A. Accomazzi, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA; J. Soles, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; G. McCann, Institute of Physics, Bristol, UNITED KINGDOM; M. Cassar, American Institute of Physics, New York, NY; C. Biemesderfer, American Astronomical Society, Washington, DC

We describe a collaborative effort to update and unify the various vocabularies currently in use in Astronomy into a single thesaurus that can be further developed and updated through broad community participation. The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT) will be an open, interoperable and community-supported thesaurus which unifies the existing divergent and isolated Astronomy & Astrophysics thesauri into a single high-quality, freely-available open thesaurus formalizing astronomical concepts and their interrelationships. Continue reading “The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus at AAS!”