Maintaining the ERIC Thesaurus
ERIC has an ongoing commitment to maintain the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors (Thesaurus). In addition to adding new terms, ERIC may modify the status of an existing Descriptor, or subject heading, if it has been rarely used in indexing, overlaps with other terms, or becomes obsolete. ERIC may also reinstate terms if necessary. These changes, generally based on literary warrant, are considered routine maintenance, and are in accordance with standard practices of thesaurus development and maintenance as outlined and defined in ANSI/NISO Standard Z39.19-2005, Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies. Other Thesaurus maintenance activities include updating hierarchical relationships and adding or changing scope notes.
Rarely Used Descriptors:
An evaluation of usage may identify Descriptors that have been rarely used for indexing documents. For example, "Nembe" was used to index fewer than 5 documents in nearly 40 years. ERIC no longer uses this term, using the Descriptor "African Languages" instead.
"Foster Care," "Foster Children," "Foster Families," and "Foster Parents" are overlapping concepts. The differences between them could fragment, rather than enhance, precision search and recall. ERIC has combined these terms under "Foster Care" and recommends using population group terms such as "Parents" and "Children" to narrow the search to important populations.
An evaluation of usage may identify concepts that are no longer addressed in the current literature. For example, “Fallout Shelters” rarely appears in the current literature. This Descriptor was replaced with the broader concept of “Emergency Shelters.”
Over time, the terminology used in the literature to address a concept may change, requiring updates to the Thesaurus. For example, the term “Handicapped” was replaced by the term “Disabilities.”
Occasionally the hierarchy of terms (e.g., Broader, Narrower) needs adjustment. For example, the record for the Descriptor "Context Effect" had identified "Influences" as a Related Term. The relationship was changed, making "Influences" a Broader Term.
A review of the Thesaurus may identify Descriptors that require a change to the existing scope note or the addition of a scope note to clarify usage. For example, a scope note was added to the term "Architecture" indicating that the term refers to architectural structures, not information architecture.