AGROVOC country report - Republic of Moldova

FAO/Buletin Dorin Goian

AGROVOC in the Republic of Moldova

In 2007, RSAL SAUM joined the international AGROVOC community as the AGROVOC editor for Romanian . The starting point in the use of AGROVOC was a study made in 2000, based on which the functional efficiency of the library’s information system was calculated. Cleverdon’s methodology was used to determine the efficiency of the information retrieval system. (Cyril Cleverdon was a British librarian and computer scientist known for his work on the evaluation of information retrieval systems). The results of the study highlighted that the indicators of recall and precision were very low, while the indicators of information noise and loss prevailed.

There was a need to improve the indexing of publications, which has a direct impact on the qualitative investigation of information. It was necessary to move from free indexing to controlled indexing on the basis of a thesaurus specialized in agricultural sciences, which could be widely applicable internationally. The library indexers were encouraged to use AGROVOC in its printed version, which is well known and recognized in several countries. It was an example of a complex, safe and efficient system for organizing knowledge, standardizing and improving the quality of the agricultural lexicon and related sciences, and discovering operational and accurate agricultural information.

A professional team was created to work on AGROVOC in the last two years consisting of six members, whose objectives are enriching AGROVOC’s content and enhancing its relevancy and use for the agricultural sector. The team worked on translating concepts and terms from all the areas that were identified as relevant for the Republic of Moldova, such as viticulture, winemaking, agro-ecology and rural tourism. All areas of progress have been made in delivering new translated terms as well as improving communication and collaboration mechanisms between librarians and experts in those fields (see Table 1).

To better understand the meaning and the context of using more difficult terms, the AGROVOC team at SAUM held consultations with experts. This dialogue also led to ensure an effective environment for professional communication, learning and supporting in elucidating unclear, ambiguous aspects of certain terms and resolving terminological issues. It adopted the linked data approach to data publishing, associating the terms from AGROVOC with terms from the General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus (GEMET) and EuroVoc thesaurus. It did this via the Simple Knowledge Organisation System (SKOS) format, which allows for the alignment of various information systems by defining equivalences between knowledge organization systems and concepts used in each of them.

Table 1. Romanian terms in AGROVOC. Source: FAO 2021

Information indexing tool 

The thesaurus substantially facilitates the indexing activity, which is one of the most complex and time-consuming concerns in library work. AGROVOC was used for years among the agricultural libraries of the Republic of Moldova and it has proved itself to be an efficient support in the indexing of agricultural information, contributing to the unification and improvement of the indexing process quality.

The use of AGROVOC became a natural interest in the cataloguing and indexing activity of RSAL SAUM, as it is constantly used in the information systems – the electronic catalogue, the digital depository and the databases managed by the library. It plays an important role developing the electronic catalogue of the library as a tool for retrieving agricultural information.

The online catalogue of the library works as a part of the collective catalogue shared by seven university libraries of the Republic of Moldova and includes about 1 005 300 bibliographic records.

Being used for data indexing in the electronic catalogue of the library, AGROVOC offers indexers an efficient support for selecting relevant terms in describing the content of documents. It presents for each concept a set of relationships, connections, alignments and definitions, which provide a clear orientation in the meaning, context and scope of the term itself. AGROVOC helps avoid the dispersion of related information by controlling (merging) and eliminating synonymy, polysemy and homonymy. Thanks to AGROVOC, library indexers use the same term to describe similar content, which excludes the loss of information in the investigation process of the electronic catalogue.

Thus, AGROVOC contributes to developing and updating the subject authority file of preferred terms in the agricultural field, enriching it with new terms, updating it and making it compatible with international vocabularies and thesauri. Its use helps indexers to scientifically describe the content of various categories of documents that the library includes in the institutional digital repository: scientific papers from journals and collections, conference materials, monographs, doctoral theses, etc. Since 2016, the library manages and develops the Institutional Repository in Agricultural Sciences of SAUM, which stores and disseminates in open access the university scientific production including over 3 000 full text documents.

Indexing documents in the institutional repository with AGROVOC terms in Romanian and English contributes to the dissemination of metadata through search engines, ensuring integration, and increases the visibility of SAUM’s scientific results in the global information space.

AGROVOC is used as an indexing tool by AGRIS. A network of hundreds of data providers from about 150 countries is contributing to it. In order to accomplish a qualitative indexing process, which has a direct impact on the discovery of agricultural information, a strong effort is needed from the network. In this regard, AGROVOC solves the problem of the linguistic resources compatibility of the databases in the participating countries with the AGRIS database. This contributes to the standardized and unitary indexing of agricultural information and data by all AGRIS data providers, facilitating their interoperability and reuse.

Three institutions from the Republic of Moldova participate in the provision of AGRIS data:

  • RSAL SAUM, which fulfills the attributions of the national AGRIS Center;
  • the Research Institute of Field Crops from Balti; and
  • the Technical University of Moldova, which publishes the Journal of Engineering Science.

As AGRIS providers, the institutions of the Republic of Moldova evaluate and select the agricultural publications edited in the country, index their contents with AGROVOC concepts and transmit them to the international centre for integration in the global AGRIS database. 

Information retrieval tool

Information discovery is not an easy process. The users often perform simple searches only using the words from natural language, which negatively influences the search performance. AGROVOC helps Moldovan users of agricultural information to discover terms in international databases such as AGRIS, in the electronic catalog of the library and in the institutional repository, increasing their relevance and functional efficiency. AGROVOC guides and inspires users in selecting keywords or alternative words to express a concept, since the number of relevant documents generated by the system depends on the capacity and the method used by the inquirer to request information. It allows users to establish a search strategy by using standardized terms.

The thesaurus ensures an efficient dialogue between the information system and the user, making them communicate in the same language by converting in predefined terms notions selected from the text of documents and requests for information. This reduces the gap between user queries and relevant information. Therefore, AGROVOC  serves as a terminological reference system for users to apply the same terms that are used by the information system to index resources. Being a system with a rich semantic structure, AGROVOC not only presents the results of the user’s direct request, but also offers related concepts, helping to explore, clarify the meaning of terms and identify concepts in a specific field of interest.

Educational and research resource

Reflecting the active vocabulary of agricultural sciences, AGROVOC manages to keep the specialists in the field up to date with current terminology. The thesaurus assists agricultural researchers and practitioners in exploring the conceptual context of a certain aspect or problem of research or practice. It also provides a conceptual framework for teachers and trainers suggesting didactic arrangements and subject sketches that are useful for the development of training materials. For students from the educational institutions in the field of agricultural sciences, AGROVOC serves as a coherent and appropriate conceptual framework; an educational resource; and conceptual map of a field that facilitates the acquisition of terminology, learning and assimilation of information.

Teachers encourage their students to use AGROVOC for a number of purposes:

  • To use the correct terminology and know the latest agricultural terms and the most recent developments in the study disciplines.
  • To determine the scientific names in Latin for plants, animals, bacteria and viruses. For example, the scientific name for “apricot” is Prunus armeniaca, “goats” is Capra and “honey bees” is Apis mellifera.
  • To learn foreign languages ​​more easily and translate specialized terms into various languages.
  • To learn more about a concept by relating it to broader or narrower related concepts.
  • For example, examining the block of the concept “wheat,” it is possible to find out that:
    • Wheat is one of the cereal products (cereals) of vegetable origin;
    • wheat flour and wheat straw are produced from wheat;
    • the wheat includes multiple species, such as facultative wheat, hard wheat, primitive wheat, soft wheat, spring wheat and winter wheat; and
    • Wheat can be affected by pests and diseases (such as karnal bunt).

The systematized visual presentation of the hierarchy of concepts in the thesaurus provides students with a clear picture and an inventory of the level of knowledge in a particular field of agricultural science (for example: winemaking, forestry, beekeeping, etc.). Therefore, AGROVOC serves as a means of enhancing the development of students’ knowledge and guidance in further studies.

A tool for translating agricultural terms into various languages

The continuous emergence of new specialized terms, concepts and technologies in the agricultural academic space presents a major intellectual challenge for translators of specialized texts. AGROVOC serves as a practical tool and terminology database that facilitates the work in specialized translations of professionals from the Republic of Moldova. It is particularly useful in the case of certain types of technical or scientific texts in the agricultural field. Translating specialized texts is a difficult task from a professional point of view, because it requires not only the language skills of the translator, but a deep knowledge of specialized terminology and of the professional language.

Without a specialized thesaurus, translators cannot cope with the specific terminological diversity of agricultural texts. In the context in which the texts in the field of agricultural sciences are distinguished by their specificity and complexity, AGROVOC represents a source of inspiration for the translator who hesitates in choosing a certain term or faces a terminological problem in search of equivalents to problematic terms. AGROVOC provides a “box” of term suggestions that best convey the necessary meanings and connotations.

Scientific communication tool

AGROVOC has a remarkable positive impact in terms of the correct use of specialized terminology and overcoming language barriers in the professional communication of researchers from the Republic of Moldova with researchers from other countries. In recent years, the growing phenomenon of internationalization has included the scientific community of the Republic of Moldova. The process of internationalization of agricultural research institutions in the country is carried out in multiple dimensions. This phenomenon has led to an increase in the international mobility of teachers and PhD students, the active involvement of researchers in partnerships and international projects, and in the organization of various joint activities with foreign universities.

All these activities require that researchers have a good knowledge of: the agricultural scientific terminology accepted and used at the international level, the terms used in various languages and of the correct meaning of the concepts in a certain context. At the same time, researchers from various countries often express the same concepts using different terms in their scientific papers. Therefore, enhancing the efficiency of scientific terminology, its unification and harmonization are very important.

In order to meet these challenges, researchers use AGROVOC, which helps them to use agricultural terminology correctly and safely when identifying and establishing the linguistic equivalence of identical concepts expressed in various languages. The thesaurus provides researchers with a unified language of science, ensuring mutual understanding and simplifying communication.

Consequently, the thesaurus contributes to facilitating the connection to international research and the scientific exchange of knowledge and achievements, to the dissemination of scientific results and to increasing their visibility worldwide. AGROVOC plays an important role in the scientific communication of the researchers from the Republic of Moldova with the researchers from other countries, because it contains a consistent and internationally recognized terminology that can be used and shared between researchers. At the same time, the thesaurus facilitates communication between individuals with different levels of knowledge (such as experts in the field, decision makers, farmers, potential users, etc.) allowing a clear expression and understanding of concepts for greater, easier, more interactive involvement in professional discussions and dialogues.

Given the requirements of agricultural scientific journals, AGROVOC represents a useful support in writing and presenting abstracts and keywords for papers, both in the native language and in a language of international circulation. Being a source of terminological reference of scientific vocabulary, the thesaurus is used in developing joint programmes with institutions abroad; writing and publishing together monographs, scientific papers and reports; and making presentations of scientific communications.


Link to part four