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Realfagstermer [Science Subject Terms]

Realfagstermer is a multilingual, controlled vocabulary of partly pre-coordinated subject headings which mainly covers the physical sciences, mathematics and computer science.

It is maintained by the University of Oslo Science Library in collaboration with the University of Bergen Science Library, and covers mainly the physical sciences, mathematics and computer science. As of January 2020, the vocabulary consists of approximately 11 000 concepts, and about 15 000 compound headings ("subject strings"), published as open data for everyone to use freely.

The concepts are grouped into four types: topical, geographical, chronological and genre/form. Each concept includes at least a unique identifier and a preferred term in Norwegian, Nynorsk and English. In addition, each concept may include alternative terms (synonyms, acronyms), scientific names, associative references ('see also'), notes (for internal use), definitions (for the end user) and mappings. Realfagstermer is not a hierarchical vocabulary.

Taking control

Realfagstermer is a quite young vocabulary, initiated in 2009 during the early process of consolidating the former department libraries into a new science library. Formerly, the indexing had been based on free keywords, and with different collections coming together there was a need for better control and consistency.

The initial project group based its work on the free keywords previously used, and set the stage for a comprehensive review of these. The review was done by the subject specialists for each department collection. Accepted, and, if needed, corrected headings were re-applied to bibliographic entries in a field for controlled subject headings. Approximately 80 000 records were furnished with controlled subject headings retrospectively.

In spring 2011, Realfagstermer was put in use as the Science library vocabulary. To maintain Realfagstermer we use the locally crafted software Roald for indexing and Sonja for editorial work.

Collaborations and mapping

In 2012-2013 we carried out a project with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) that compared Realfagstermer to their vocabulary Tekord. This resulted in a crosswalk between the two vocabularies that covered about 20% of each vocabulary. The project received funding from the National Library of Norway.

In 2014 we collaborated with the Humanities and Social Sciences Library and the National Library on a feasibility study for developing a Norwegian General Thesaurus based on Humord, Realfagstermer and other vocabularies. The project recommended moving forward with such a development, but the recommendation was eventually not followed up.

Since 2014 the University of Bergen (UiB) Science Library have also been using Realfagstermer and participated in the editorial group developing the vocabulary. In 2015 UiB headed a project translating the vocabulary to Nynorsk. The project received funding from Arts Council Norway.

In 2013–2014 a project was carried out on mapping the vocabulary to the Dewey classification system, which resulted in about the same number of mappings as did the earlier mentioned Tekord project. The project was supported by the National Library of Norway.

We believe that the need for controlled, Norwegian science terminology extends far beyond the library field. Through the publication of Realfagstermer as open data under a free license (CC-0), the vocabulary can be used freely by anyone.


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Published Oct. 27, 2014 2:35 PM - Last modified Apr. 5, 2022 11:08 AM