HASSET Thesaurus moves to new platform

We are pleased to announce the release of the latest version of HASSET and with it, the move of the thesaurus to a new publishing platform. The Humanities and Social Science Electronic Thesaurus (HASSET) is the leading British English thesaurus for the social sciences. It is a working tool to help researchers retrieve the data from the UK Data Service collection which best relates to your field of research or interest.

The new platform uses Skosmos, a web-based open-source browsing and publishing tool for thesauri and other vocabularies developed by the National Library of Finland. Skosmos is built on the Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) and thus offers improved access and interoperability possibilities for HASSET. As well as a refreshed user interface, the new platform provides developers with both a Linked Data endpoint and a RESTful API for machine-actionable retrieval of RDF thesaurus data.

Skosmos replaces HASSET’s previous platform which was designed in-house at the UK Data Service for the joint management of HASSET and its multilingual sister thesaurus, the European Language Social Science Thesaurus (ELSST).  HASSET is owned by the University of Essex and managed by the UKDS, while ELSST is owned and hosted by the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA). The UKDS has an important stake in ELSST, coordinating content development and managing the source language version, English. ELSST was originally derived from HASSET, and the two thesauri remain closely linked, sharing many concepts and structures.

Unlike the previous HASSET/ELSST software, which incorporated both thesaurus management and publishing functions, Skosmos is purely a browsing and publishing tool. VocBench, developed by the University of Rome Tor Vergata, is the new ‘back end’ thesaurus management system for HASSET. Like Skosmos, VocBench is open-source software. ELSST was migrated to the same two systems in 2020. The UKDS led the ELSST migration work, so we were able to draw on this experience for HASSET. Other leading international thesauri, including AGROVOC and UNESCO, also use VocBench and Skosmos.

Both Skosmos and VocBench are built on SKOS, which was a key consideration in choosing them. SKOS is part of the W3C family of standards that supports the use of linked data. This will enable us to link HASSET to not only data but also to ELSST and other vocabularies worldwide, and thus help us to extend the impact of HASSET as a major resource discovery tool. For the first time also, an API is available for HASSET.

While recent work has focused on migration of HASSET to VocBench and Skosmos, content development work has also continued in order to keep concepts and hierarchies up to date. For example, new concepts have been added to cover rapid research studies conducted to investigate social and economic developments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For further details, see the latest Release Notes. There is a direct link from HASSET concepts to the UK Data Service’s Data Catalogue Keyword search, making relevant datasets easy to find.

The licence under which HASSET is distributed has also changed. It is now covered by a less restrictive licence, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0); the same licence used by ELSST. Previous users should read the terms and conditions of the new licence.

Please use the HASSET feedback form to provide us with any feedback, including suggestions for new terms.

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