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TAGS - Thesaurus of Australian Government Subjects


The Thesaurus of Australian Government Subjects (TAGS) describes Commonwealth information and services. It was developed in response to agency requests for a simpler approach to 'Subject' metadata.

AGIMO is pleased to provide the Thesaurus of Australian Government Subjects (TAGS). This thesaurus, which describes Australian Government information and services, was developed in response to agency requests for a simpler approach to 'Subject' metadata as well as being flagged as a requirement in the Commonwealth Implementation Manual [External Site] for AGLS metadata. TAGS is the product of multiple drafts which have been reviewed by a dedicated group drawn from key agencies. While its main purpose is to aid agencies in creating 'Subject" metadata, it will also be a valuable resource in supporting the Australian Government's Portals framework.

AGLS Metadata facilitates resource discovery and use of an agency's resources online by providing descriptions that aid and increase the ease with which information can be discovered. While search engines aim to match search terms to the exact word/s entered as keywords in a full text index, this method is limited to only discovering those resources containing that exact word. It will not discover items having the same conceptual information - ie. information on the same subject but not containing the original search term will not be discovered.

To increase the ease and precision with which such information can be discovered, a process of semantic control, such as a thesaurus listing a controlled vocabulary, is required. The use of a thesaurus, or other formal classification scheme, is recognised best practise in all information-related disciplines.


TAGS is a thesaurus of subject terms for use by Australian Government agencies which:

In addition, it conforms with ANSI/NISO Z39.19, Guidelines for the Construction, Format and Management of Monolingual Thesauri - the standard for structure and organisation of information retrieval thesauri. It is a hierarchical thesaurus which uses a "tree" structure starting with broad concepts which then break down to narrower concepts. There is a maximum of 3-4 levels in each hierarchy. This is complemented by 17 high-level clusters, or 'Subject categories', that collect together related terms.


The main advantage of TAGS is that it provides a consistent general list of subject terms, which is the preferred tool for all agencies to use in AGLS 'Subject' description. TAGS presents the business of government from a subject or topic perspective, and is independent of the structure of government. In addition, it has been designed to represent concepts in a neutral way, and to cover all general areas of interest to government. The size of the thesaurus has been deliberately limited to maintain its general nature, but be practical and easy to use.

Synonyms have been included for most terms, and it deliberately includes all those APAIS (Australian Public Affairs Information Service Thesaurus) terms that are within its scope. This means that existing metadata using APAIS terms can be retrieved with the help of TAGS. An additional feature is that agency specific or more subject specific thesauri may be used in tandem with TAGS. Proper names and geographic names have been excluded as TAGS is specifically for Subject description.


Some of the benefits of using the TAGS thesaurus include it:


TAGS - Thesaurus of Australian Government Subjects [PDF Document 475kb]

TAGS - Thesaurus of Australian Government Subjects [Excel Document 276kb]

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