ICPSR Subject Thesaurus
The structure and format conventions used to construct this thesaurus follow the recommendations
outlined in the Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri,
Z39.19-1993 (NISO 1993). This section identifies and provides brief descriptions of the conventions
All punctuation is excluded, with the exception of text in scope notes.
Hyphens are used only in cases of necessary prefixes (e.g. anti-war,
pre-marital) or where literary warrant establishes the use of a hyphen to link words together (e.g.
drive-by shootings). Sources for such warrant include the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1998) and
existing subject specialized thesauri (for a listing of thesauri used see the Sources Consulted
bibliography). Where disagreement occurs among these sources, the decision is based on user warrant
as indicated in the subject thesauri consulted.
Singular and Plural
Terms are expressed in plural form if they constitute "count nouns" (i.e., names of objects or
concepts that are subject to the question "how many").
Terms are expressed in singular form if they constitute "noncount nouns" (i.e., names of
materials, substances, or states of being that are subject to the question "how much").
Compound terms in the form of noun phrases are included if they represent a single concept
and exist in common usage.
Compound terms in the form of prepositional noun phrases are restricted to concepts that
cannot be expressed in any other way.
prisoners of war
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Proper Names and Titles
Organization names are included in the Subject Thesaurus as unique entities or "classes of
one" (NISO 1993).
Titles of institutions, treaties, and legislative acts are included in their full form except
in cases where an acronym is the more familiar usage.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Names of persons and names of geographic
places are excluded from the subject thesaurus. Two separate controlled lists have been created
to accommodate these categories.
The Subject Thesaurus indicates both hierarchical and non-hierarchical relationships between
terms. Hierarchical relationships are those that demonstrate genus:species, whole:part,
class:subclass relationships. This is designated through the Broader Term, Narrower Term notation.
NARROW TERM(S): congressional elections
BROADER TERM(S): elections
Non-hierarchical relationships indicate a close conceptual relationship (though not
synonymous) between terms. This is always represented as reciprocal and is indicated by the related
RELATED TERM(S): appellate courts
RELATED TERM(S): judicial decisions
Preferred and Non-Preferred Terms
Synonyms, near synonyms, alternate spellings, superseded terms, and abbreviations of less
commonly used terms are controlled by designating a "preferred term" and referencing it to all
relevant (semantically equivalent) "non-preferred terms" and term variants. This is indicated by the
USE and USE FOR notation, where the term following USE is the preferred term (to index and search by)
and the term following USE FOR indicates the non-preferred term.
USE: indigenous peoples
USE FOR: primitive peoples
Non-preferred terms are often called "lead-in" terms because, with the USE notation, they
effectively "lead" the user to the appropriate (preferred) term to apply.
Parenthetic qualifiers are used to disambiguate homonyms and to clarify terms whose meaning
or context in time and space may cause confusion. Qualifiers become part of the term and must be
included in indexing or searching.
Bush Administration (1989-1993)
Bush Administration (George W. 2001- )
Scope notes are used to provide a definition for a specialized term, to provide instruction
or restriction on a term's application, and in some cases, to direct the user to other terms that
might be more appropriate. Scope notes are indicated by the notation SCOPE NOTE(S).
SCOPE NOTE(S): A court trial terminated without conclusion either because of prejudicial error in
the proceedings or because a jury cannot agree on a verdict.
SCOPE NOTE(S): applies only to national elections for the United States House of Representatives.
SCOPE NOTE(S): Use limited to 1922-1991; dissolved 1991.