Albuquerque, NM — Access Innovations, a leading firm in information retrieval, has teamed with the Public Library of Science (PLOS), a non-profit multi-disciplinary publisher and advocacy organization, to create a customized thesaurus to enhance search retrieval. The new, NISO Z39.19-compliant thesaurus includes more than 10,000 terms and 3,300 synonyms, which will enhance search retrieval tenfold.

Gabe Carr, PLOS project manager at Access Innovations, explained the ground-breaking nature of the project. “With a broader range of granular subject terms and improved tagging accuracy, the new thesaurus will make PLOS content even more accessible to professionals, researchers, and casual readers like me. We’re proud to be involved with a pioneering organization like PLOS.”

Because PLOS doesn’t specialize in publishing any one subject area, but rather publishes content across all biomedical fields as well as disciplines as diverse as information science and paleontology, the first step was to create a controlled vocabulary to suit PLOS’s needs. Access Innovations drew upon an internally created science, technology, engineering, and medicine thesaurus (STEM), identifying some 15,000 candidate terms for inclusion in the thesaurus.

Marjorie M. K. Hlava, president of Access Innovations, said developing a controlled vocabulary for the multidisciplinary publisher was an important first step: “Think of the word mercury, for instance. In astronomy, Mercury is a planet. In chemistry, it’s an element. It all depends upon the context and usage. In a multidisciplinary project such as this, it’s important to identify the terms that will need disambiguation.”

After being reviewed by subject matter experts (SMEs), the result was a 10,400-term thesaurus comprising seven tiers. The ten top-tier terms are: 1. Biology and life sciences; 2. Computer and information science; 3. Earth sciences; 4. Engineering and technology; 5. Environmental science and ecology; 6. Medicine and health sciences; 7. Physical sciences; 8. Research and analysis methods; 9. Science policy; and 10. Social sciences.

John Chodacki, director of product management at PLOS, said the key to creating the new thesaurus was cooperation and collaboration among PLOS’s thesaurus development team and Access Innovations editors. “Organizing and categorizing the PLOS content is a daunting task because we publish across a broad range of topics. Access Innovations was the perfect partner to keep the project on track and on time. Together we quickly defined the vocabulary, organized it into a thesaurus, applied terms to our existing corpus, and set up systems to add terms to new articles as they are published.”

About Access Innovations, Inc. –,,

Founded in 1978, Access Innovations has extensive experience with Internet technology applications, master data management, database creation, thesaurus/taxonomy creation and semantic integration. The Access Innovations Data Harmony software includes automatic indexing, thesaurus management, an XML intranet system (XIS), and metadata extraction for content creation developed to meet production environment needs. Data Harmony is used by publishers, governments, and corporate clients throughout the world.

About the Public Library of Science (PLOS) –

The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. PLOS engages in outreach activities that promote open access and innovations in the communication of research for scientists and the public. 2013 marks PLOS’s tenth year as an Open Access publisher, reaching an international audience through immediate and free availability of research on the Internet. PLOS publishes a suite of seven journals: PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Pathogens, and PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and PLOS ONE, which publishes research from more than 50 diverse scientific fields and is the largest journal in the world.