"A thesaurus is a terminological control device used in translating from the natural language of documents, indexers or users into a more constrained 'system language' (document language, information language)". It is also "a controlled and dynamic vocabulary of semantically and generically related terms which covers a specific domain of knowledge". The INIS Thesaurus fits this definition adopted by UNESCO (SC/WS/555: Guidelines for the Establishment and Development of Monolingual Thesauri: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris, September 1973).
The terminology in this thesaurus has its origin in the 1969 edition of the EURATOM Thesaurus. The structure subsequently given to that terminology was the result of a systematic study performed by subject specialists at the INIS Secretariat and several Member States. Further expansion of the Thesaurus terminology was done in cooperation with the Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDE), to incorporate wider vocabulary on all forms of energy. ETDE was a multilateral information exchange agreement which existed from 1987 to June 2014 under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA). ETDE’s mandate was to exchange a wide scope of energy science and technology information among its partners, building its primary database, the ETDE World Energy Base (ETDEWEB).
The domain of knowledge covered by the INIS Thesaurus includes physics (in particular, plasma physics, atomic and molecular physics, and especially nuclear and high-energy physics), chemistry, materials science, earth sciences, radiation biology, radioisotope effects and kinetics, applied life sciences, radiology and nuclear medicine, isotope and radiation source technology, radiation protection, radiation applications, engineering, instrumentation, fossil fuels, synthetic fuels, renewable energy sources, advanced energy systems, fission and fusion reactor technology, safeguards and inspection, waste management, environmental aspects of the production and consumption of energy from nuclear and non-nuclear sources, energy efficiency and energy conservation, economics and sociology of energy production and use, energy policy, and nuclear law.
The terms in the Joint Thesaurus are listed alphabetically. For each alphabetical entry, a "word block", containing the terms associated with this particular entry, is displayed. In the word block, terms that have a hierarchical relationship to the entry are identified by the symbols BT for Broader Term, and NT for Narrower Term; a term with an affinitive relationship is identified by RT, for Related Term; terms with a preferential relationship are identified by USE or SEE, and UF for Used For, and SF for Seen For. In case of multiple USE relationships for a forbidden term, all listed descriptors should be used to index or search a given concept. In case of multiple SEE relationships, one or more of the listed descriptors should be considered for indexing or searching this concept.
Over the years the INIS Thesaurus has evolved as a result of systematic study and it contains over 30 000 terms.
Using the INIS Thesaurus as a starting point, INIS, in cooperation with the Member States, has developed INIS Multilingual Thesaurus with navigation capabilities including the full thesaurus hierarchy. It is available in all official languages of the IAEA. Namely, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish, as well as in German and Japanese,. It represents a unique multilingual thesaurus in the nuclear field and serves as a major tool for indexing and describing nuclear information and knowledge in a structured form, which assists in multilingual and semantic searches of the INIS Collection.
For the list of all Thesaurus related products please see INIS publications page.