The Turfgrass Thesaurus

What is the Turfgrass Thesaurus?

The Turfgrass Information Center uses a controlled vocabulary of thousands of terms related to turfgrass science, culture, and industry to assign subject keywords, or descriptors, to our database records. These descriptors are connected to one another in hierarchical relationships through broader, narrower, and related terms, and are also linked to common synonyms and variants to capture historical, regional, or linguistic differences in terminology.

This authority structure allows for TGIF records with similar content to be linked together through a consistent set of terms, while helping users find what they are looking for by capturing a range of possible search inputs.

The Turfgrass Thesaurus is continually refined and curated by TIC employees, ensuring that assigned keywords remain accurate and relevant to turfgrass science and practice. In this way, the Thesaurus is a vital authority file for understanding and navigating the evolving world of turf literature.

What Thesaurus Do Descriptors Do and Why are They Useful?

Adding keyword descriptors to TGIF records helps our users in several ways. First, descriptors can bridge cultural barriers between countries by linking together terms used in different parts of the world to describe the same concept. For example, "greenkeeper" is the job title used in the United Kingdom to describe a person in charge of a golf course's maintenance. In the United States, a "golf course superintendent" is responsible for the same tasks – the jobs only vary in their name. When a TGIF user searches for "greenkeepers," they will receive results that contain both "greenkeepers" and "golf course superintendents." Controlled keywords can also be useful when dealing with scientific classifications versus common language names. For example, the names “perennial ryegrass,” “English ryegrass,” “fine ray-grass,” and “Deutsches Weidelgras” all refer to the same species of grass – Lolium perenne.

Bridging temporal barriers is a second way that descriptors help improve TGIF database searches. Agrostis stolonifera, for example, is a type of turfgrass that used to be known as Agrostis palustris. If a user searches for the current taxonomic name of the grass, they will also receive results from records containing the old version. In this way, assigning descriptors to TGIF records allows users to find information on a topic that has evolved over the years, connecting old material and new.

The third way in which descriptors aid in searching is by identifying concepts that, while they may be central to the core “message” of an item, are not spelled out explicitly within the text. For example, an article may detail a college student's unpaid summer experience at a facility maintaining turfgrass – without ever using the word “internship.” In this case, adding the keyword "Internships" to the article’s TGIF record makes it much easier to find in a casual search of the database, in addition to linking it to other records dealing with the same content.

Searching the Turfgrass Thesaurus

The “Thesaurus Search” feature within TGIF is a useful way to see if a certain term or concept related to turfgrass is part of our controlled vocabulary. Searching the Turfgrass Thesaurus allows a user to find every keyword or keyword phrase that includes their searched term, as well as every descriptor that is conceptually broader, narrower, or related to that term.

The Thesaurus Search returns both valid descriptors – those that can be used as keywords in TGIF records – and non-preferred variant terms. Scope notes, which tell our team when or how to use certain descriptors, are also shown when available. The Thesaurus Search is a great way to see if we have a certain term or concept related to turfgrass available in our controlled vocabulary. By default, Thesaurus Search will find every keyword or keyword phrase that includes your searched term, as well as every keyword with a relationship to that term.

Each valid descriptor has its own page within the Thesaurus, where it is possible to navigate to a list of all the TGIF records with that keyword assigned to them. Search results are organized so that valid terms – those which can be attached as keywords to TGIF records – filter to the top, sorted alphabetically. Nonpreferred variants of valid keywords display last, also in alphabetical order. Scope notes, which tell our indexers when or how to use certain terms, also appear on the table of results when available.

Just click on a valid keyword on the results page and you’ll land on the Thesaurus page for that term, where you can see and navigate to any terms that are conceptually broader, narrower, or related. This page will also display any nonpreferred synonyms we have captured in the Thesaurus, as well as some additional information depending on the term in question.

Finally, selecting “Display tagged TGIF records” for a given term will bring up a list of all the TGIF records with that keyword assigned to them, and you can also move from this list of TGIF records to the relevant Thesaurus entry by clicking “See this term in the Turfgrass Thesaurus.”