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Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives


The thesaurus is free to search and browse online using the Skosmos publishing solution. ELSST is also free to download on acceptance of a CC-BY-SA licence.

Search or browse online

To access the thesaurus, click on the ‘Access ELSST’ link at the bottom of the ELSST home page. This takes you to the home page of the latest version of ELSST (Version 4).

Terms can be browsed either via their hierarchical structure or by alphabetical listing. They can also be searched using the search box, either by a specific language or across all languages. Searches are case-insensitive and diacritic-insensitive. The system autocompletes the string.

The default search finds all terms that start with the search string. For example art finds terms such as ART and ARTISTIC ACTIVITIES as well as ARTHRITIS and ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION, etc. Entry Terms, such as ART, are shown in italics, with a pointer to their Preferred Term (in this case, VISUAL ARTS).

The symbol * can be used for truncated searches. For example

  • art* will find all terms starting with art, i.e. it is the same as the default search.
  • *art will find all terms ending in art such as ART and WORKS OF ART
  • *art * will find all terms that contain art anywhere in the term. In addition to the terms found by the searches art* and *art, it finds terms such as VISUAL ARTS and FINE ARTS EDUCATION, as well as HEART DISEASES, POLITICAL PARTIES, etc.
  • *-* or *'* finds all terms that contain hyphens (for example ANTI-TERRORISM and MEDICAL X-RAYS) and apostrophes (for example WORKERS’ RIGHTS and WOMEN’S HEALTH) respectively

To select a term, click on it within the autocomplete list. Alternatively, click on the Search button to display the list of results then click on a term within this list to select it. The terms in the results list are shown with their definition. Broader, Narrower and Related Concepts and Alternative/Entry Terms are also displayed, indicated by symbols. Hover the cursor over the symbol to see how terms are related.

On the search results page you can also refine your search by entering a Broader Concept into the ‘By parent’ search box under ‘Search options’ on the left hand side of the page, and clicking the ‘Limit search’ button. For example, on the results page for *art*, limiting the search to the parent term EDUCATION filters out terms such as ARTHRITIS and ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION. To clear the filter press the ‘Clear limitations’ button on the right hand side of the page.

Selecting a term takes you to the home page for that term. The left hand side of the page shows the term in its hierarchy, while the right hand side shows the term with its Entry Terms, relations and notes.

Search or browse previous versions of ELSST

To access previous versions, click on the ELSST thesaurus logo on the top left-hand corner of the latest version home page. This shows a clickable list of all available versions of ELSST, including the current version. You can either:

  • Click on a link to take you to the version of your choice. To return to the latest version, click the back button.
  • Search for a term across one or more versions by selecting the version(s) and language from the dropdown boxes next to the search box, and either click on a term within the autocomplete list or click on the ‘Search’ button. To switch back to the original version or access another, select the relevant version from the drop-down box next to the search box in the results page.

If a term is available in the previous version of ELSST, it has a ‘has previous version’ link to that version on its home page. You can click on that link to switch to the term’s home page in the previous version. To return to the term’s home page in the latest version, click on the ‘is a version of’ link on the previous version’s page.

New concepts

New concepts are listed under the ‘New and Deprecated’ tab. The list is ordered chronologically and all links are clickable New concepts are also shown in the Alphabetical and Hierarchical lists.

Deprecated concepts

Concepts in ELSST are never deleted but deprecated instead. This ensures that their URI is still resolvable in case users have annotated their resources with the concept. A red banner at the top of the concept page indicates that it has been deprecated.

Deprecated concepts are listed under the ‘New and Deprecated’ tab. The list is ordered chronologically and all links are clickable. Deprecated concepts are indicated by ‘strikethrough’ text. Where the deprecated concept has been replaced by another, an arrow followed by the new concept name indicates its replacement.

API access

The Skosmos installation provides an API. See the Swagger documentation for details.

Download ELSST

ELSST is also free to download on acceptance of a CC-BY-SA licence. This allows users to modify and build upon the work even for commercial purposes. Any new works that use the original content must carry the same CC-BY-SA licence and CESSDA must be clearly credited as the owner of the work.