A Method to Convert Thesauri to SKOS

  • Mark van Assem
  • Véronique Malaisé
  • Alistair Miles
  • Guus Schreiber
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4011)


Thesauri can be useful resources for indexing and retrieval on the Semantic Web, but often they are not published in RDF/OWL. To convert thesauri to RDF for use in Semantic Web applications and to ensure the quality and utility of the conversion a structured method is required. Moreover, if different thesauri are to be interoperable without complicated mappings, a standard schema for thesauri is required. This paper presents a method for conversion of thesauri to the SKOS RDF/OWL schema, which is a proposal for such a standard under development by W3C’s Semantic Web Best Practices Working Group. We apply the method to three thesauri: IPSV, GTAA and MeSH. With these case studies we evaluate our method and the applicability of SKOS for representing thesauri.


Data Item Node Label Prefer Term Compound Term Prefer Concept 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    ANSI/NISO. Guidelines for the construction, format, and management of monolingual thesauri. Ansi/niso z39.19-2003 (2003)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    International Organization for Standardization. Documentation - guidelines for the establishment and development of monolingual thesauri. ISO 2788-1986 (1986)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Goldbeck, J., Fragoso, G., Hartel, F., Hendler, J., Parsia, B., Oberthaler, J.: The National Cancer Institute’s Thesaurus and Ontology. Journal of Web Semantics 1(1) (December 2003)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hyvönen, E.: Miksi asiasanastot eivät riitä vaan tarvitaan ontologioita? why thesauri are not enough but ontologies are needed (in finish). Tietolinja (2) (2005), URL: ISSN 1239-9132
  5. 5.
    Johnston, D., Nelson, S.J., Schulman, J., Savage, A.G., Powell, T.P.: Redefining a thesaurus: Term-centric no more. In: Proc. of the 1998 AMIA Annual SymposiumGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Miles, A., Brickley, D. (eds): SKOS Core Guide. W3C Public Working Draft, World Wide Web Consortium (November 2005), Latest version:
  7. 7.
    Miles, A., Brickley, D. (eds.): SKOS Core Vocabulary Specification. W3C Public Working Draft, World Wide Web Consortium (November 2005), Latest version:
  8. 8.
    Miles, A., Rogers, N., Beckett, D.: Migrating Thesauri to the Semantic Web - Guidelines and case studies for generating RDF encodings of existing thesauri. Deliverable 8.8, SWAD-Europe (2004), URL:
  9. 9.
    Peterson, T.: Introduction to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1994)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Soergel, D., Lauser, B., Liang, A., Fisseha, F., Keizer, J., Katz, S.: Reengineering thesauri for new applications: the AGROVOC example. Journal of Digital Information 4(4) (2004)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Soualmia, L.F., Goldbreich, C., Darmoni, S.J.: Representing the mesh in owl: Towards a semi-automatic migration. In: Proc. of the 1st Int’l Workshop on Formal Biomedical Knowledge Representation (KR-MED 2004), Whistler, Canada, pp. 81–87 (2004)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    van Assem, M., Menken, M.R., Schreiber, G., Wielemaker, J., Wielinga, B.: A method for converting thesauri to RDF/OWL. In: McIlraith, S.A., Plexousakis, D., van Harmelen, F. (eds.) ISWC 2004. LNCS, vol. 3298, pp. 17–31. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark van Assem
    • 1
  • Véronique Malaisé
    • 1
  • Alistair Miles
    • 2
  • Guus Schreiber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceVrije Universiteit Amsterdam 
  2. 2.Business and Information Technology DepartmentCCLRC Rutherford Appleton LaboratoryOxfordshireUK

Personalised recommendations