LIS 677 - Web Thesaurus Displays

(This is a shorter version of an illustrated survey that is available on the course SharePoint site to students taking the course.)

Search interface

Many Web thesauri provide a search interface, though many do not.

The Canadian Thesaurus of Construction Science and Technology allows use of Boolean logic and right truncation.

The EnVoc Thesaurus formerly provided a form with several options. Another example of a form with options can be seen in the interface for the GLIN Thesaurus.

Query results

The Art and Architecture Thesaurus formerly divided query results into exact matches and keyword matches (it now gives a single list).

The AOD Thesaurus supplies query results as a detailed list, with an option to switch to a quick list of just the terms.

The Australian Pictorial Thesaurus returns a list of preferred and non-preferred terms (with the latter's preferred terms also indicated).

The EnVoc thesaurus formerly displayed terms either in alphabetical order or in systematic order, depending on what the user had selected (the systematic order might be rather difficult to understand).

The Canadian Thesaurus of Construction Science and Technology uses a file search engine and presents the results of keyword searches in relevance ranked order with estimated relevance values.

The Seattle City Clerk Thesaurus formerly showed the detailed display for the first matching term (matches might include words in scope notes) and provided navigation buttons to view other matches. (The current version returns a list of the first few matching terms, with a button to continue to more terms in the list if applicable.)

Term list

A number of Web thesauri allow viewing of simple alphabetical lists of terms. The Canadian Thesaurus of Construction Science and Technology provides an example of a very simple list. The EnVoc Thesaurus formerly showed a list with references from preferred to non-preferred terms. A similar list where each reference takes up several lines can be seen in the GLIN Thesaurus. A formerly available version of the OECD Thesaurus provided a run-on term list for each letter of the alphabet. The Statistics Canada Thesaurus formerly showed a list of terms for each letter of the alphabet, with non-preferred terms in italics.

Term details

The Art and Architecture Thesaurus provides checkboxes to allow the user to call up more than one detail record at a time.

The Art and Architecture Thesaurus includes alternate forms of speech and a list of sources, in addition to term ID, hierarchy, scope note, and synonyms and spelling variants (UF references). A place for sources is also included in the CATIE thesaurus and the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus.

The EnVoc thesaurus formerly showed term detail in a contextual hierarchical display.

The EuroVoc Thesaurus shows multiple levels of both narrower terms and broader terms.

Other examples of term detail displays can be seen in the Astronomy Thesaurus.

A formerly available version of the OECD Thesaurus supplied checkboxes and a "descriptor notepad" to assist in constructing search strategies.

Hierarchical displays

Examples of hierarchy displays can be seen in the Astronomy Thesaurus, Australian Pictorial Thesaurus, and formerly the HASSET Thesaurus, among others.

Classified displays

The AOD Thesaurus provides a broad outline of its classification scheme, a quick hierarchy, or an annotated hierarchy showing term links.

The EnVoc Thesaurus formerly allowed a display of main classes, which can then be clicked on to go to more detailed displays. A similar arrangement of a broad display with links to detailed classified displays is provided by the EuroVoc Thesaurus. The Unesco Thesaurus likewise supplies a clickable display of broad classes, which leads to more detailed lists of classes and, in turn, to an alphabetical list of terms within each class. The OECD Thesaurus provided a two-level classified display, with second-level headings that could be clicked on to obtain an alphabetical list of terms belonging to each.

The Seattle City Clerk Thesaurus provides a very short clickable list of general classes on its home page, together with a search term box.

Other displays

The ASIS Thesaurus, in addition to an alphabetical of terms only and a hierarchical display, also had an expandable display in which the user might expand and collapse various parts of the term hierarchy.

The IRIS Thesaurus showed an alphabetical list of broad classes, each of which may be clicked on for more detail, which is actually further down the same page. A similar list formerly appeared in one of the frames in the initial display of National Monuments Record thesauri.

The former Bioethics Thesaurus provided a KWIC display. A KWIC display in a listbox was formerly the default response to a query in the HASSET Thesaurus (unless there was a single match).

The CATIE thesaurus was formerly accessible via a KWOC display. A KWOC display with references to preferred terms was formerly available as an option in the EnVoc Thesaurus. The GLIN Thesaurus supplies a KWOC display in response to a keyword query.

Multiple displays

The Agrovoc Thesaurus formerly used frames to show four different displays at the same time: (1) search form and language selector; (2) search results; (3) term links for selected term; (4) scope note and equivalent terms in other languages.

The ASIS Thesaurus also made use of multiple frames, one each for header and footer, one for the alphabetical, hierarchical, or expandable display, and one for either the introduction or term details. The National Monument Records thesauri also make use of frames, to show term lists or term details alongside a list of broad categories or a more detailed hierarchy.

The former Bioethics Thesaurus used additional frames, but only for instructions and general command links. This is also true of some other thesaurus interfaces.

The HASSET Thesaurus formerly allowed a dual display in two listboxes.

In the GLIN Thesaurus, the default detail display for a term is a conventional list of direct links followed by a selective hierarchical display.


Terms are often made into hot links. The InfoTerm Thesaurus provided links for only some terms. The Statistics Canada Thesaurus provides hot links to terms in the same language, but not to terms in the other language; the same is true of the Unesco Thesaurus.

The AOD thesaurus provides no hot links from the terms directly, but typically follows each term with hyperlinked abbreviations signifying other displays in which the term will be found. Somewhat similarly, the hierarchical display in the Seattle City Clerk Thesaurus puts the links on the term reference numbers instead of on the terms themselves.

The HASSET Thesaurus formerly put both term lists and term details into listboxes and provided a button to navigate to the selected item.

The ASIS Thesaurus provided a list of linked letters of the alphabet to facilitate navigation through its alphabetical display. A list of clickable letters on the welcome page as well as in the alphabetical displays for individual letters, which otherwise have no links, could formerly be seen in the case of the Life Sciences Thesaurus. The OECD Thesaurus also presented a clickable letter list on its English welcome page, along with a hierarchical display (an earlier former version had only a link to the hierarchical display and a query entry box). The Statistics Canada Thesaurus formerly provided only a clickable letter list on its welcome page (now it just provides a search form).

Instead of a list of letters, the Unesco Thesaurus shows a list of alphabetical term ranges.

Some thesauri lack hot links associated with individual terms. They may have only links to letters of the alphabet, as in the former ASFA Thesaurus, where each letter pointed to a different HTML file, or in the former Bioethics Thesaurus. The ITS Thesaurus puts both the alphabetical listing and a hierarchical display with some term links on the same page with only very general page navigation links. The Seattle City Clerk Thesaurus lacks links in its term detail display, though it has links in its hierarchical display.

The Canadian Thesaurus of Construction Science and Technology provides alphabetically next and previous term links.


Some Other Web Thesauri


Last updated September 19, 2007.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only):
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7