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Home > Contributors Area > Guidelines for Contributors

Guidelines for contributors

These guidelines are intended to help contributors to submit new candidate terms and relationships to the UK Archival Thesaurus. They are intended to simplify the process of term submission by providing contributors with step by step instructions, to ensure that the terms submitted comply with UKAT's standards. If you are unfamiliar with thesaurus concepts, such as the distinction between 'preferred' and 'non-preferred' terms, we recommend that you first read Thesaurus basics.

Before you submit

Before you can submit any terms to UKAT using the on-line forms, you must first be registered as a contributor. This will allow us to keep track of your contributions, and ensures that we can contact you if something needs clarification. You can register on-line using UKAT's Registration form. Once you've received your password, you can Login to submit terms and manage your account.

You should also check that the term which you wish to submit has not already been submitted to UKAT by someone else. The simplest way to do this is to Search UKAT. For guidance on how to use UKAT's search interfaces, see the Searching UKAT help page.

Even if the term which you want to submit has already been incorporated into UKAT, you may feel that it should have additional relationships to other terms in the Thesaurus: e.g. that it should have extra broader terms, or should appear in another microthesaurus. If so, you can suggest these relationships using the Submit new relationships for an existing term form. Equally, if you disagree with an editorial decision (e.g. the term which you want to submit has been rejected), you should Contact UKAT, as editorial decisions can be revisited.

Selecting a term

UKAT's scope

At present, UKAT is accepting the submission of any term which is in use by the archive community, whether it comes from a recognized authority list, such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings, or an in-house wordlist. We also welcome terms which users of archives feel might help them to find material relevant to their research. However, there are some categories of terms which UKAT does not cover:

Names of places, people and organisations have been excluded from UKAT as they are subject to different guidelines established by the National Council on Archives. Very specific unique entities are excluded if they are deemed to be of use to only a single repository. For example, the term '1994 General Household Survey' is very useful for the repository which submitted it, but is not particularly useful for the wider archive community. Therefore it will be rejected.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is widely used by some sectors of the archive community, and many subject headings are being submitted as candidate terms. The submission of chains of subject headings will cause problems with the online submission form, so we would appreciate it if subject headings are broken down into their constituent parts

For example, the string 'Building trades--Employees--Labor unions--Great Britain' should be broken down into four separate terms. These can then be individually submitted as candidate terms, and in all likelihood would be accepted, with the exception of 'Great Britain' which is a place-name.

Spelling and punctuation

UKAT has adopted British English spelling. Terms submitted to UKAT will be normalised to reflect this, which may particularly affect terms which originated as LCSH strings. So in the above example, 'Labor unions' would be entered into UKAT as 'Labour unions'. In addition, initial capitalization of the first word of a term is being used as the standard, unless the term is a proper name (e.g. 'Roman Catholic').

Punctuation should also be avoided, unless its removal would alter the meaning of the term.

Singular or plural?

As a general rule, terms submitted to UKAT should be in the plural. However some terms submitted, particularly those relating to abstract concepts, will always be in the singular. A simple rule as to whether the term should be submitted in the singular or plural form is to see whether it can be subjected to the question 'how many?', for example 'how many books?'. This rule mainly applies to the names of countable objects. If the term could be subjected to the question 'how much', then it should be in the singular. For example, the term 'information' falls into this category.

However, a term should also be singular if it represents an abstract concept, such as 'loyalty', or if it represents a unique entity or event, such as 'Second World War'. Many candidate terms which are in the singular have already been submitted. These include terms for specific events, such as 'Battle of Britain', and various Acts of Parliament.

Submitting terms using the online submission forms

Terms can be submitted using the online forms, which are accessible once you Login as a contributor.

There are three term submission forms:

These forms are designed to deal with the most common types of submissions. It is anticipated that most users will want to submit new preferred terms. Please Contact UKAT if you would like to submit terms by other means (e.g. by email or on paper).

Submitting a new preferred term

Once you have decided on the term and its format (see Selecting a term), you can then begin the submission process.

Step one: enter the preferred term

After you've logged in as a contributor, go to the Submit new preferred term form. Enter the new preferred term in the 'Term name' field. It should be a term which is not already in UKAT, as a preferred term or non-preferred term.

Step two: enter any non-preferred terms

In the 'Used for' field, enter any non-preferred terms which you consider to relate to the new preferred term. These can be non-preferred terms which you have devised yourself, or non-preferred terms which are already in UKAT and which you consider should relate to the new preferred term. For instance if you entered the new term 'Oil paintings' and you feel it should be related to the existing non-preferred term 'Art works', then enter 'Art works' here. If you enter more than one non-preferred term, please separate your entries by commas.

Remember, not all preferred terms will have or will require a non-preferred term.

Step three: enter a microthesaurus and/or broader term

If you are familiar with the structure of UKAT, you may wish to select the microthesaurus which your term fits into. Use the drop down menus to select a field of knowledge and a microthesaurus, then confirm your choice by pressing the button labelled 'select microthesauri' (you must do this before you submit your term). Once you've selected a microthesaurus, you can select additional microthesauri for the term in the same way. To remove a microthesaurus that you've selected, check the box next to the MT and press the 'update microthesauri' button.

You may know the term which you would choose as the broader term of the term which you have submitted. If you go to the 'Broader Terms' field and type in the name of a preferred term which is already in UKAT, you do not need to supply a microthesaurus: this will be derived automatically when you submit your entry, provided your broader term is an existing UKAT term.

You can also specify a broader term which is not already in UKAT. If you do so, you must indicate a corresponding microthesaurus for the new term and its broader term. We would ask that you also fill in a 'Submit new preferred term' form for the new broader term, once you've submitted the term which is its narrower term, as this will allow you to indicate relationships and scope notes for the broader term.

UKAT supports a polyhierarchical approach. This means that a preferred term can potentially have more than one broader term, and can sit in more than one microthesaurus. If you think that your term should have more than one broader term, and/or more than one microthesaurus, then you can enter multiple entries in the 'Broader Terms' and 'Microthesaurus' fields. Please separate each entry in the 'Broader Terms' field with a comma. Note that if you enter many broader terms, one or more of which are not in UKAT, then you must specify a corresponding microthesaurus for each broader term.

The minimum input which you must supply (in addition to the new term itself) is a microthesaurus, or an existing UKAT preferred term as a broader term. It may be that you are not confident about your choice of where your term should fit in the Thesaurus. If so, don't worry. As part of the editing process, we will decide where the term should sit.

Step four: enter any narrower terms

Many candidate terms will be specific terms, and as such are likely to be included at the lower levels of the hierarchy. However if the candidate term could act as a broader term for terms which already exist within UKAT, then these should be included in the submission form, in the 'Narrower Terms' field.

You can also use this field to suggest narrower terms which are not already in UKAT - these might be other terms which you are submitting at the same time. If you do so, we would ask that you also fill in a 'Submit new preferred term' form for the new narrower term, once you've submitted the term which is its broader term, as this will allow you to indicate relationships and scope notes for the narrower term.

If you enter more than one term in the 'Narrower Terms' field, please separate the entries with commas.

Step five: enter any related terms

Having entered broader and narrower terms, you may also wish to enter some related terms. For example if you submitted the term 'Inns', you may wish to relate it to the term 'Brewing industry'. As with broader and narrower terms, you can either enter an existing UKAT preferred term, or a new preferred term. If you enter a new term, we would ask that you also fill in a 'Submit new preferred term' form for the new term, once you've submitted the term which is its related term, as this will allow you to indicate relationships and scope notes for the new term. If you enter more than one term in the 'Related terms' field, please separate the entries with commas.

Although it is not essential that a term be submitted with all its relationships defined, it does speed up the editorial process. Supplying details of the broader, narrower and related terms for a candidate term also strengthens the case for the term to be included, as it allows the editor to see where the term fits in the overall thesaurus. Even if the contributor is unsure of the exact hierarchical position, it should be easy enough to identify a particular microthesaurus which can be browsed via the hierarchical display.

Step six: enter a scope note

The scope note is a very important part of the term. Not only does it define the term, but it also enables the editor to place the term in the correct hierarchy. Even if the scope note consists solely of the dictionary definition, it places the term in context. The scope note is also the most useful part of the term, as it allows the user to know for certain that they have the correct term.

Although not compulsory, we would appreciate it if a scope note is supplied as part of the submission.

Step seven: confirm your entry

Having completed the form and submitted the term, you will then see a confirmation screen. This allows you to check the information which you have entered and correct any errors prior to final submission. The screen also provides information on the terms which you have entered as broader, narrower and related terms. It will indicate whether these terms are existing UKAT terms, or new terms which you have created.

If you are happy with your submission, you can now submit it for consideration by clicking the 'Submit new term' button. You can also choose whether or not to receive an email confirmation of your submission. This will be sent to the email address which you supplied when you registered as a contributor.

Submitting a new non-preferred term

The Submit new non-preferred term form is much simpler to use than the 'Submit new preferred term' form. It allows you to submit a new non-preferred term for an existing UKAT preferred term. For example, the term 'Rugby' may be useful as a guide term to the already existing preferred term 'Rugby football'.

To submit a new non-preferred term, simply enter it in the 'New term name' field, and then enter the existing UKAT preferred term in the 'Use' field. Remember that you should only submit a new non-preferred term for an existing UKAT preferred term: if you enter a non-UKAT term in 'Use', your submission will be rejected. Similarly, you should not enter an existing UKAT term in the 'New term name' field.

As with the 'Submit new preferred term' form, you will see a confirmation screen with the details of the non-preferred term which you have submitted. This will also ask whether you want to receive an email confirmation of your submission.

Submitting new relationships for an existing term

The Submit new relationships for an existing term form has the same appearance as the 'Submit new preferred term' form and has the same functionality, except that you can only enter terms which already exist in UKAT. The form allows you to suggest new relationships between terms which are already in the Thesaurus. Note that you will not be able to establish relationships to any term whose status is rejected.

For example, as UKAT is a polyhierarchical thesaurus, you might want to suggest that an existing preferred term should have additional broader terms, or should be placed in an additional microthesaurus. You can also suggest additional narrower terms and related terms; suggest a new relationship between the preferred term and one or more existing non-preferred terms; suggest that a non-preferred term should become a preferred term (and vice versa); or propose a scope note. Simply enter the details of the existing term at 'Existing term name', and then enter your choice of non-preferred, broader, narrower and related terms and scope notes in the relevant fields. If you enter multiple terms in a field, please separate the entries with commas. Microthesauri can be selected in the same way as in the 'Submit new preferred term' form. If you enter a term which does not exist in UKAT, you will receive an error message when you attempt to submit your entry.

Remember that these relationships are reciprocal: you only need to enter the relationship once, and it will automatically be updated for the other term. For example, if you want to make 'Civil war' a narrower term of 'War', you need only enter 'Civil war' in the 'Existing term name' field and 'War' in the 'Broader Terms' field, and then submit your entry. You do not need to repeat the process with 'War' in the 'Existing term name' field and 'Civil war' in the 'Narrower terms' field.

As with the other term submission forms, you will see a confirmation screen with the details of the relationships which you have submitted. This will also ask whether you want to receive an email confirmation of your submission.

After you submit

The terms and relationships which you contribute to UKAT will be evaluated by the project's Editor using an editing methodology which has been approved by the project's Advisory Panel. The report setting out this methodology can be downloaded from the Download documents page. Please note that as editing is now being undertaken on a voluntary basis, it may take some time for substantial submissions to be processed.

Initially, any new term which you submit will have the status of a 'candidate' term, and should appear on the website on the Candidate terms pages after an initial assessment by the Editor. Once your term is available on the website, you will be able to find it using UKAT's Advanced search facility. The entry for the term will indicate any relationships which you submitted with the term. It will also show the term's source, which is based on the name publishing preference which you specified when you registered as a contributor: i.e. your own name, your organisation's name, or anonymous. You can change your name publishing preference by Logging in and editing your registration details.

Your term and any associated relationships will then be edited, during which the Editor may contact you if any clarification is required. Once the intitial editing has been completed, the Editor will invite the project's Advisory Panel to comment on the editing of your terms (for information on the Advisory Panel, see About UKAT). During this period your term will either appear in the main body of the Thesaurus, with its status as 'pending', or in the list of Rejected terms if the Editor feels that it is inappropriate for UKAT. At the end of the feedback period, any final edits will be made, after which your submission will either remain in UKAT with its status changed to 'approved', or will appear in the lists of rejected terms.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a timeframe during which your submission will be edited. All submissions will be edited in order of receipt. Very occasionally, we may need to revisit terms which have already gone through the editing process in light of new submissions. If this happens, you will be consulted over any significant changes which may be made to a term or its status.