AGROVOC semantics coverage in Turkish : the inside story. An interview with Yasemin Çevik - Part 2

The AIMS team is pleased to share with you Part 2 of the interview with Yasemin Çevik who is actively coordinating the term contributions to AGROVOC content coverage in Turkish

AGROVOC multilingual thesaurus is coordinated by the FAO of the UN.

As of December 2017, AGROVOC had up to 35,000 preferred terms/concepts in English, while the Turkish AGROVOC version had 33,680 preferred terms. 

You can discover more about AGROVOC concepts, terms and their relationships -  by starting with searching and browsing in SKOSMOS

AIMS reached out to Yasemin Çevik with some questions, to which she graciously and promptly responded. Part 1 of the interview can be found here.  

Yasemin Çevik works as an agricultural engineer at the Publication Department of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock in Turkey, where the Turkish National AGRIS Center is located. The Center has been supporting AGRIS activities in Turkey since 1986. A voluntary project for the Turkish AGROVOC thesaurus was initiated in 2008.


As far as we know, you are not only translating AGROVOC, but  also suggesting new AGROVOC concepts, as well as suggesting substantive new ways to restructure the AGROVOC (i.e. virus classification)... Could you tell us, please, what aspect(s) of this work do you find the most challenging ?

Yasemin Çevik
(Y. Ç.)

Well, AGROVOC has less concepts compared to other agricultural international Thesaurus (e.g. NALT and CABI Thesaurus), and there are some problems with the notation of concept diagrams, duplicates, delete operations, or SKOS representations. If we want to improve AGROVOC, we need to work, first of all, a lot to improve on these issues.

My colleagues and I have prepared the guideline e-book (used by the Turkish AGROVOC Team) entitled "Indexing with AGROVOC". This resource explains the structure of AGROVOC, its properties, and provides recommendations on how to expand AGROVOC and enhance its use in the Turkish context. Echoing this guide, I would like to share some recommendations on how we proceed with the extension of the AGROVOC. As our team includes domain experts (from different countries) related to AGROVOC knowledge coverage, they contribute with their items/entries (terms, synonyms, definitions, explanatory notes) in their own languages, bilingual or multilingual – into the  VocBench web editor tool.

The new semantics entries suggested come from various thesaurus, dictionaries, catalogs, and other authoritative sources (e.g., wikipedia, gbif, species 2000, ICTV, Angiosperm Phylogeny Group,, reflecting knowledge in the fields of food, agriculture, forestry, fishery and aquatic products, natural resources and environment, country biodiversity and species lists, germplasm resources, economy, veterinary, machinery and equipment, laws and regulations. I double-check these entries with equivalents and synonym retrieved from the AGROVOC SKOSMOS.

To proceed with a good “decision-making” process regarding the choice of new terms to be included into the AGROVOC hierarchical structure, it is important to be familiar with the Thesaurus standard ISO 25964 (in its two parts), as well as the AGROVOC Editorial Guidelines and the online AGROVOC editorial tool - VocBench.

And now, I would like to share my “two coins” on what I find the most challenging in the context of AGROVOC promotion in Turkey.

One of the main issues that our Center encounters with AGROVOC is how to integrate this online semantics product into our information systems, which contain thousands of intensive research result, based on integrated ontologies. Moreover, our Center is interested in presenting the AGROVOC in its multilingual versions (Turkish, German, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian) on the Ministry webportal. Here, we need your experience, advice, and help. Maybe there are also similar experiences from the AGROVOC community that could be replicated? Should we create links to the AGROVOC SKOSMOS, if so, how?

We would also like to know if  it could be possible to have AGROVOC available in at least one of the) several file formats like PDF, XML, RDF-SKOS, Word DOC, MARC. I think that once AGROVOC is downloadable in (at least one of!) these formats, it will simplify search operations and make AGROVOC more widely used.  

Editorial note from the AGROVOC team:

Two download distributions of AGROVOC are provided: 
(a) CORE , which only includes AGROVOC concepts (RDF and NT format), and
(b) LINKED DATA (LD) which includes AGROVOC concepts + links to outside resources (NT and NQ format). There are also SOAP Web services, accessing the RDF version of AGROVOC through the SPARQL endpoint.

Moreover, another shortage of AGROVOC, from my point of view of my experience in the field, is that some concepts fall under more than one topic category/class/cluster, i.e. are/can be found under more than one broader term. At first glance, it could be seen as logical semantics results.  Anyhow, the same concept should not fall under more than one semantics cluster, and the same subject category.

Furthermore, I would like to draw your attention to the presentation/display of NALT concepts and classes in SKOSMOS, which seems to be very user-friendly to those engaged in  a step-by-step classification process. NALT in SKOSMOS displays precisely all areas of a concept found. For example, at the bottom of the topic category/concept "feeds": one can see the following presentation:

Broader Term

agricultural products

forage and feed science

Subject Category

E Economics, Business and Industry

L Animal Science and Animal Products

Echoing this example, I think, that in case of AGROVOC in SKOSMOS - it would be good to have an additional (besides the alphabetical and hierarchical display of semantics units) option such as “Browse by Subject / Category”.

Another good example mentioned  is CABI in SKOSMOS which has add-ons besides concepts. By searching and filtering through these added options, CABI in SKOSMOS exposes very effective search results. This feature would be very useful for AGROVOC in SKOSMOS. Again, it would be good to mirror/replicate (at least we would like to implement it in Turkey) the CABI retrieval model features in the AGROVOC retrieval model, with this in mind :

Send to AGRIS

> Send to Google

> Send to FAO Document Repository etc ...

> National Thesis Database (of Turkey)

> Life Sciences Database (of Turkey)

> Agricultural Library of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey


As AGROVOC in SKOSMOS seems to be very technical to many end-users, it can also be  difficult to use. Through possible redesign of AGROVOC in SKOSMOS display, AGROVOC will surely attract more attention from a wider audience.

I would also like to say a few words about definitions in AGROVOC. As the number of AGROVOC concept definitions is not very extensive, it would be good is they were listed as a glossary in SKOSMOS. Once the definitions of the AGROVOC  concepts reach higher numbers, AGROVOC could be also used as a dictionary, downloadable in different formats (e.g., Excel, Word, RDF/XML and NT).

Our Center would be very thankful if the AGROVOC FAO Team could provide us with answers to these questions, suggestions, and our concerns, and we will mobilize all the facilities needed to make AGROVOC more discoverable/visible, in a more user-friendly way for the Turkish audience.


It would be also interesting to know how you use AGROVOC in Turkey?

Y. Ç. :


The main objective is improve agricultural information services, to increase access to information through effective, user-friendly search and information processing. At the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, we are currently using AGROVOC for indexing and for selection of subjects in the library, which records are classified according to the AGRIS classification system.  We would also like to increase the number of definitions included in Turkish AGROVOC and publish them as an agricultural dictionary.

Our Ministry is continuously advocating for use of the AGROVOC to index agricultural research results in different institutions. In the future, we would like to create “” which is designed to facilitate access (through AGROVOC) to the research results promoted via our Ministry's. All the studies we have undertaken so far should contribute to the deployment of a trust semantics infrastructure, to leverage the effective production of agricultural information in Turkey and other countries. Based on the feed-back of our users, the publishing division of our Ministry would also like to publish Turkish AGROVOC in print, as a prestigious source that can enrich our library collection.


Thanks very much, Yasemin, for taking time out of your busy schedule, and to share with us your knowledge, suggestions and wishes related to AGROVOC. And, of course, many thanks for your professional dedication to keep translation process of AGROVOC in Turkish alive and dynamic, thus helping unleashing the power of its multilingual coverage !

Y. Ç. :


Thank you very much for having given me this opportunity to speak here.

Before saying goodbye, I would like to invite other AGROVOC contributors (and also Users!) to share their ideas (via AGROVOC DGroups*) on the AGROVOC preparation workflow presented on the bottom of my interview. It would be very interesting to know your thoughts in regard !

(*) fao_agrovoc@dgroups.orgJoin AGROVOC mailing list (AGROVOC DGroups).

(Ed. note: There is also an AGROVOC editors Dgroup).

Turkish AGROVOC Preparation Flow Chart :