How to Determine the Terms

To identify the terms of the vocabulary, you need to first examine the descriptions of your assets, looking for discrete (i.e., non continuous) content. Things that are measured are usually continuous, while things that have specific descriptions are usually discrete. Also, if you can count the total number of possible descriptions, it is likely to be discrete.

If the possible content of the metadata element is found to be discrete, then it is a likely candidate for a vocabulary. For example, if the descriptor was ocean_name and the content was the name of the ocean, then the ocean names could be added to the system as terms in a vocabulary. In this case, the vocabulary contains the five ocean names.

Once you have identified those elements that contain discrete terms, you must identify all possible terms to be contained in the elements as values. This is the list of terms for your vocabulary. You should be able to provide a definition of each value, such that its definition is unique to that value. This definition development is a process of building a dictionary of values for the vocabulary.

Have a specific question about vocabulary values? Ask MMI!

Suggested Citation

Isenor, A. 2009. "How to Determine the Terms." In The MMI Guides: Navigating the World of Marine Metadata. Accessed July 16, 2020.