Glossary (Flat Vocabulary)

Definition, description of a glossary

Flat Vocabularies Multi -Level Vocabularies Relational Vocabularies
Authority File Glossary Dictionary Gazetteer Code List Taxonomy Subject Heading Thesaurus Semantic Network Ontology

Definition of Glossary

A type of flat controlled vocabulary containing a list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms.


A glossary builds upon an authority file. For each value, a glossary provides users with a description that articulates exactly what each value means. The vocabulary is a triplet: label, term (accepted value), and description. This adds functionality for system users, compared to the authority file, because abstract terminology becomes more concrete.

Example - SIO/GDC Vocabulary Terms

  • "DCMI_Format","Dataset","General Digital Data set"
  • "DCMI_Format","Image","Photographic resource, such as a jpg or tiff"
  • "DCMI_Format","InteractiveResource","Enhanced data set, which allows for user input"
  • "DCMI_Format","PhysicalObject","Physical sample, paper document, or digital media"
  • "DCMI_Format","Software","Software code"
  • "DCMI_Format","Sound","Acoustic Recording, such as an audio tape or file"
  • "DCMI_Format","Text","General textual resource, such as Word, ASCII, or Acrobat "

In this example, the vocabulary builds upon the DCMI authority file. In this glossary, the label (also called a parameter) is DCMI_Format, which correlates with the Dublin Core Type. The SIO/GDC Vocabulary Terms use a subset of the complete DCMI list, and formats them as a comma-separated-value (CSV) text file. This helps to eliminate incorrect implementation, and facilitates understanding for users.

Suggested Citation

Neiswender, C. 2011. "Glossary (Flat Vocabulary)." In The MMI Guides: Navigating the World of Marine Metadata. Accessed January 15, 2021.