Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Research data management

Controlled vocabularies

Controlled vocabularies for a structured description of your data.

Thesauri and classifications are documentation languages that are applied for content description of objects (e.g. research data). Apart from a standardized metadata schema, they significantly enhance metadata. A classification attends the placement in (usually hierarchical) classes that are characterized by certain traits. A thesaurus (pl. thesauri) is a natural linguistic, ordered collection of terms and their relationship to each other. The use of controlled keywords from a thesaurus and the classification of content to a specific field facilitates the findability of research data. For many departments, there are already own specialized classifications and thesauri.

The Basel Register of Thesauri, Ontologies & Classifications ( offers a search and has many recognized thesauri and classifications listed.

Below you find some examples of classifications and thesauri.




Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC),

Library of Congress Classification (LCC),


By discipline

Environment Classification,

Classification for Social Sciences,

Journal of Economic Literature Classification System (JEL),

Physics Subject Headings (PhySH),

Mathematics Subject Classification (MSC),



Agricultural Sciences: AGROVOC Multilingual agricultural thesaurus,

Humanities: A Thesaurus of Old English,

Information Sciences: INFODATA Thesaurus,

Art and Architecture: Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT),
Thesaurus for Geographic Names (TGN),

Life Sciences: Environmental Thesaurus (UMTHES),

Medicine and Biosciences: Thesaurus Medical Subject Headings (MeSH),

Psychology: Thesaurus Psychology (PSYNDEX),

Social Sciences: Thesaurus Social Sciences (TheSoz),

Economics: Standard Thesaurus Economics (STW),