The role of AGROVOC and other Linked Data vocabularies in architectural models of interoperability

The interoperability among resources and repositories continues to be a subject of research in the field of information architecture. The interoperability achieved by metadata enhanced by Linked Data (LD and Linked Open Data (LOD) enables semantic web alignments among concepts between repositories. This enhances retrieving (from a single access point) publications related to a particular topic from diverse domains. 

AGROVOC multilingual thesaurus - available as an RDF/SKOS-XL concept scheme and acting on the Semantic Web as a Linked Data set - is the main focus of this essay highlighting the importance of cross-vocabulary interoperability in information architecture of several search portals. 

"... interoperability refers to the ability of interactionsexchange of information, and services between enterprise systems. Interoperability is considered as significant if the interactions can take place at least on three different levels: data, services and processes, with semantics defined in a given business context...” [1].

Developing a robust and comprehensive information architecture for interoperable web-based information systems provides the necessary shared understanding for the target solution.

The Semantic Web (a larger web of machine-interoperable and inter-related data) and LD/LOD offer additional advantages (such as sharing, reasoning and reuse) to such solutions.


# How Linked Data and the Semantic Web relate:

  • data can be open, while not being linked,
  • data can be linked, while not being open,
  • data which is both open and linked (LOD) is increasingly viable,
  • the Semantic Web can only function with data which is both open and linked.

# The definition of Linked Open Data (LOD) from OntoText. 

# Information architecture based on metadata enhanced with LOD

Image source [2]

Retrieving publications from a single access point in the repositories

- - containing content described with metadata enhanced with LOD [see: LODE-BD: Linked Open Data (LOD)-enabled bibliographic data] - -

end-users will be able to find semantically related resources and other information related to the initial publication

Thanks to semantic schemes and technologies, content in repositories becomes much more visible and enriched with related content irrespective of the original content inventory.

There are various semantic schemes published as LOD ...

... and thus available in a machine-readable format on the WebSKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System) is an ontology widely used for representing conceptual hierarchies of these schemes (including terminological resources, Knowledge Organisation Systems / KOSs) on the Web.

Some examples of KOS LD and LOD:

Different terminological resources are interlinked with each otherFor example, EARTh thesaurus has links to GEMET, AGROVOC as well as DBpedia...


... managed by the FAO of the UN, is used by a number of communities to support usability and findability of digital content, and to enhance content interoperability in different information sharing environments.

AGROVOC is available as a LD set published and aligned (linked) with several Knowledge Organisation Systems vocabularies [see: AGROVOC on DataHub].


AGROVOC for ... (among others)

  • Index electronic information resources, e.g. in library catalogues or document repositories
  • Tag content in websites, e.g. integrating AGROVOC as a taxonomy of Typo 3 or Drupal
  • Facilitate search engine discovery
  • Reference for translations
  • Linking datasets and enhancing access to open data
  • Standardization of agricultural information data and services



AGROVOC Multilingual Thesaurus - home page.  For any inquiry related to AGROVOC, please contact [email protected]

The role of AGROVOC in some Information Sharing Environments

Digital Information Environment ... 

... & AGROVOC 

AGRIS web platform

AGRIS platform -- managed by the FAO of the UN -- provides you with access to a wealth of research and technical information (and related data) on agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, aquatic sciences, fisheries, human nutrition and extension worldwide.

A large AGRIS open collection of rich bibliographic records is indexed by AGROVOC.
After having accessed an AGRIS bibliographic record, you will be able to find related content (deposited in different repositories worldwide) just clicking on the exposed AGROVOC Keywords (e.g., as from the aforementioned record retrieved: AGROVOC terms: dried milk - tea - oil products - wines - foods).

EconStor Open Access repository


Through EconStor, the German National Library of Economics ZWB offers not only a platform for Open Access publishing, but also a possibility to access and retrieve enriched scientific publications from different LOD repositories, based on concept alignment.

All publication in EconStor are described and indexed with the LOD Thesaurus for Economics (STW). This latter is mapped to AGROVOC through skos:exactMatch relation (e.g., the concept “biofuel” from STW is aligned to the same concepts in AGROVOC, so as “food” to “agriculture” and “foos diets”, and so on).

 LIVIVO search portal


The search terms in LIVIVO are automatically linguistically enriched and semantically linked by vocabularies that are specially designed and adapted for life sciences:

  • MeSH - for medical sciences, 
  • UMTHES - for environmental sciences and 
  • AGROVOC - for agricultural sciences.

This leads to precise and enhanced search results - a hit list that is sorted by relevance and can be filtered by the ZB MED subjects fields : medicine/health, nutrition, environment and agriculture.

TECA web platform

TECA -- managed by the FAO of the UN -- contains practical information about agricultural technologies and practices, to help small producers in the field.

TECA keywords system connected to AGROVOC enables you to find a number of related information resources about technologies and practices in crop production, forestry, livestock, fisheries, marketing and much more.

These web services (just to name a few examples) provide references to different LOD sets (including AGROVOC) and their metadata 



The LOD Cloud Diagram is one of the most visible tools in the Semantic Web community and the team (A.Abele, J. P. McCrae, P. Buitelaar, A. Jentzsch, R. Cyganiak) at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway has committed to providing regular updates to this diagram. You can also help best reflect the true state of the LOD Cloud, by updating your resource description in based on guidelines below:

  • Provide tags describing your dataset
  • Provide number of triples
  • Provide information about links to other datasets in format:

o    links:<resource id in DataHub>
o    E.g., links:dbpedia

For more details please see the LOD Cloud Diagram Page or the detailed description here.

[1] O.A. Adenuga,.R.M. Kekwaletswe, A.Coleman, eHealth integration and interoperability issues: towards a solution through enterprise architecture, Health Inf Sci Syst. 2015; 3: 1
[2] A. Hajra and K. Tochtermann, Enriching Scientific Publications from LOD Repositories through World Embeddings Approach, Metadata and Semantics Research: 10th International Conference, MTSR 2016 (p.280, 282) 

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