New Thesaurus Supports More than 375,000 Current Publications and is Expected to Serve 20,000 Additional Publications Annually

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has partnered with Access Innovations, a leading firm in semantic enrichment, on a cutting edge taxonomy in optics and photonics. Currently in use on SPIE’s websites, and the SPIE Digital Library, the taxonomy provides the basis for topically focused searching and browsing the most relevant SPIE content from the society’s journals, proceedings papers, and eBooks.

Brad Ferguson, SPIE Senior Director of Finance and Administration, explained, “We needed to build a taxonomy that will support the over 375,000 publications we have on file as well as be able to handle our rapid growth – which now totals nearly 20,000 additional new publications every year.”

Marjorie M.K. Hlava, president of Access Innovations, commented, “The degree of specificity in term usage of the SPIE community combined with a well-formed taxonomy supports incredible power in search and discovery of the SPIE collection.”

The starting point for the taxonomy was SPIE’s seven major technology segments: 1) Astronomy and Astronomical Optics; 2) Biomedical Optics and Medical Imaging; 3) Communication and Information Technologies; 4) Defense and Industrial Sensing; 5) Electronic Imaging and Processing; 6) Micro- and Nano-Technologies; and 7) Optics and Electro-Optics.

By using all the resources provided through these technical areas, Access Innovations was able to build a frequency list to load into its Data Harmony® Thesaurus Master® software in order to massage terms to create full term records with hierarchical, equivalence, and associative terms as appropriate.

Also used as source data for the new taxonomy were site search logs from the SPIE Digital Library, the website, and author-supplied keywords.

Hlava explained, “Since we had the data, we could be certain that the terms would be relevant for the SPIE content. We worked with SPIE technical staff to fine-tune the taxonomy and ensure that both traditional and new and emerging technologies are represented.”

The new optics and photonics thesaurus, which provides broad resources for expanded user offerings across all of SPIE content, includes 3,830 preferred terms covering the full breadth and depth of the technologies covered by SPIE in its publications, conferences, and educational programs. The taxonomy is a fully-formed ANSI/NISO Z39.19 thesaurus, as well as an ontology in OWL Full. It is compliant with the ISO new controlled vocabulary standards.

“We enjoyed working with the team at Access Innovations and are confident that the new taxonomy makes the vast amount of information we have now that much more accessible to our constituents.  We also believe it will be able to handle the growing volume of knowledge we will offer to researchers, teachers, and students in the future,” said Eric Pepper, SPIE Director of Publications.

About Access Innovations –,,

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 SPIE –

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 225,000 constituents from approximately 150 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional growth, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $2.7 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2011.