The National Academies

NCHRP 20-109 [Final]

Enhancement of the Transportation Research Thesaurus

  Project Data
Funds: $175,000
Research Agency: Information International Associates Inc
Principal Investigator: Gail Hodge
Effective Date: 7/28/2016
Completion Date: 8/27/2018
Comments: Published as NCHRP Research Report 874: The Transportation Research Thesaurus: Capabilities and Enhancements

The Transportation Research Thesaurus (TRT) is a tool to improve the indexing and retrieval of transportation information. The TRT is used by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and a variety of other organizations to support indexing, search, and retrieval of research documents, technical reports, and other information about transportation; and assists information users by facilitating consistency in language and cataloging of this information across repositories. At the same time, the TRT provides a basis for users who wish to tailor their own information storage and retrieval systems for their specific needs. While TRT refers to “research” in particular, the TRT's application is broader, covering all modes and aspects of transportation and thereby providing a common and consistent language for communication among producers and users of transportation information. The TRT is curated and maintained by the TRB. The TRT Web page— https://trt.trb.org/ —allows for searching and browsing the thesaurus in various formats. The TRT originated as a tool to support TRB’s Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) database, as described in the 2001 NCHRP Report 450: Transportation Research Thesaurus and User’s Guide, enabling indexers to describe documents in a consistent way and TRIS users to more easily retrieve relevant TRIS records in their areas of interest by searching the thesaurus terms. The TRIS database subsequently was consolidated with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Joint Transport Research Centre’s International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) Database into TRID, the world's largest and most comprehensive bibliographic source on transportation information. TRID contains more than one million records of published information and ongoing research, covering all modes and disciplines of transportation. The TRID Database is available on TRB’s website at https://trid.trb.org

If the TRT is to maintain its value to a growing community of stakeholders, it must evolve to improve the user experience, make its services accessible to a broader range of users, accommodate changing transportation technology, adapt to changing international information management practices, and take advantage of advances in information technology. People concerned with the TRT’s future envision, for example, that the thesaurus should ultimately be compliant with internationally accepted principles and standards for structuring information sharing and linking knowledge organization systems via the Web. The TRT’s functionality should ultimately facilitate, for example, (a) straightforward mapping between the TRT’s terms and those employed in the thesauri and other information management tools of other organizations; (b) implementation and maintenance of scalable and robust management software; (c) an export function to enable users to adapt the TRT to meet their specific needs; and (d) use of the TRT by a wider range of producers, users, and curators of transportation information. 
The objectives of the research were to (a) develop a strategic plan for the TRT’s development and (b) identify and implement a specific set of actions to enhance the TRT and initiate implementation of the strategic plan. The research has been undertaken in 2 phases, in close consultation with TRB staff and volunteers responsible for TRT development and maintenance.  The 1st-phase project entailed critical review and assessment of the TRT and currently used TRT management software,  description of use-case scenarios and structure for TRT strategic plan development, development of strategic options for the TRT's enhancement, and description of actions to be taken in the near term to proceed with enhancement.  A report of the 1st phase was accepted; a 2nd phase has been initiated to develop materials needed for procurement of ISO-compliant thesaurus software and migration of the TRT to the new management platform.
STATUS: NCHRP Research Report 874 The Transportation Research Thesaurus: Capabilities and Enhancements has been published and is available for download by clicking here. Application of the research results and further development of the TRT are managed by responsible TRB staff.    

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