General Guidelines

There are several reasons one might decide to 'tag' a given record with a particular vocabulary:

  1. All catalog records should be tagged with the core vocabularies. Presently these are: Cataloging Project, SERC subject vocabulary, and Resource Type. In addition to being the sorts of information that are generally useful, there are many features of our sites that are built on the assumption that all resources are tagged with these 3 vocabularies. If there's no entry for one or more of these vocabularies for a given record they may not appear in places they ought. The cataloging project vocab is usually dealt with automatically when a record is first created--so usually you won't have to think about this one. If records are imported from a DCS then they may (in their external vocabs field) already have a SERC subject vocab and/or a resource type selected. If the choices seem appropriate you can leave things at that. But if there aren't entries for one of those fields in the external vocabulary, or if those entries seem sub-optimal, then you'll need to go in and make appropriate choices.
  2. A given project may require particular vocabularies (or particular terms within a vocabulary) to be used. Often this is because browse interfaces within that project require the particular vocabulary. If you don't follow the rules for the project then the resource simply won't appear at all in the particular browse interface. A list of project-specific requirement can be found below.
  3. Additional vocabularies may be recommended based on existing vocabulary choices. As described here the vocab editing interface will make suggestions based on your current choices. If you've indicated (with the Resource Type vocabulary) that this particular resource is a teaching activity then the system will automatically suggest that you add in (and check an appropriate box in) the 'ease of use' category. Following these suggestions will ensure that this richer set of vocabularies is available as these resources are used across projects.

    So while a particular vocabulary may not seem important for the project you're currently cataloging for, go ahead and follow the suggestion. It may allow your cataloging work to pay off for another project where those vocabularies are relevant. Keep in mind that you need not follow suggestions that don't make sense. For instance if it suggests tagging a resource according to quantitative skill and the resource has no quantitative componant then clearly you ought not to follow the suggestion. Use your best judgement keeping in mind resources may get used by other projects. Tag based on what's true about the resource, not just what's relevant for your current project.
Each project has a different set of vocabularies, and here we offer some at-a-glace help for which vocabs to add to your cataloged records.

All Records: Core Vocabularies

  • Cataloging Project (may be automatic, if not, check the appropriate box)
  • SERC subject vocabulary
  • Resource type

Cutting Edge

  • Core Vocabularies
  • Additional Subject-specific vocabularies as recommended by the system. e.g.tectonic setting

Using Data - Tools and Data Sources

  • Core Vocabularies
  • Data derived materials (a yes or no option)
  • Data set: data source
  • Science background required

Using Data - Activities or Examples

  • Core Vocabularies
  • Data derived materials (a yes or no option)
  • Activity inquiry level
  • Cross-cutting activities themes
  • Grade level


  • Core vocabularies
  • Make sure the microbiology category under biosphere within the SERC subject vocabulary is selected
  • Grade level
  • Extreme Environments

Starting Point

  • Core vocabularies