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CRA Controlled Subject Vocabulary (CRACSV)

About the thesaurus


The CRA's Controlled Subject Vocabulary (CRA CSV) has been developed to help Content managers, Librarians and Metadata developers in the Agency to select controlled subject terms for metadata requirements under TBITS 39.1 & 2. The CRACSV is to be used as a source of standardized terminology for the indexing and retrieval of CRA information resources in various formats, once it has been approved by Library and Archives Canada. Its main function to standardize the external form and meaning of index terms, thus ensuring that a particular concept or subject will always be represented in the same way in CRA Web site metadata resources.


The current Common Look and Feel (CLF) standards require the use of metadata elements to describe Web resources. The "subject" metadata element requires the use of values from a Controlled Subject Vocabulary (CSV) that has been registered with Library and Archives Canada (LAC). The Core Subject Thesaurus (CST) is the default CSV used by departments and agencies in the Government of Canada. Unfortunately, it lacks the specificity needed to be an effective tool for resource discovery for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

For these reasons Public Affairs Branch (PAB) has created the CRACSV, that meets the Agency's needs for resource description and discovery for the external CRA Web site (, while ensuring extensibility to other IM requirements of the Agency, including resource discovery needs on the CRA Intranet.

The CRACSV was developed in accordance with the Guidelines for the establishment and development of monolingual thesauri (ISO 2788-1986) and the Guidelines for the establishment and development of multilingual thesauri (ISO 5964-1985). It is thus fully compatible with other thesauri that adhere to ISO standards.


The CRACSV was created to be a bilingual thesaurus that meets the subject classification needs of all content on the external CRA Web site.

Official Languages

The English and French versions of the CRACSV were developed and are maintained simultaneously and neither language is to be considered the dominant or source language in this vocabulary. Neither language is a translation of the other; they are each in a relationship of equivalence. The English thesaurus (CRACSV) and the French thesaurus (VSCARC) are identical in their coverage but their respective relational structures are not identical due to the natural conceptual and terminological differences between the two languages.


The intended audience for use of the CRACSV consists primarily of those who have the responsibility for building, enhancing or revising Web pages within the CRA Web site. This includes Web developers, librarians, content providers, indexers, Web technologists and communications personnel. It is anticipated that indexers will use this Web site as an authoritative source of controlled vocabulary.

Basic Thesaurus Characteristics

A thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary arranged in a known order (not necessarily alphabetic) in which equivalence (USE; USE FOR), homographic (variant spellings), hierarchical (Broader Term; Narrower Term) and associative (Related Term) relationships among terms are clearly displayed and identified by standardized relationship indicators. A thesaurus also contains synonyms, or “lead-in” terms that may be used as the conceptual point of entry by searchers or indexers, instead of the designated indexing terms. As such, they “lead” users to the “preferred” term that is consistently used in indexing information resources that contain the subject or concept that the user is looking for.

Preferred Terms

In the CRACSV, subject descriptors (also known as “indexing” or “preferred” terms) are displayed so as to make their associative, equivalence, and hierarchical relationships obvious at a glance. Subject descriptors are terms that are authorized for use in indexing and may be used for searching indexed information resources. In the alphabetical display of subject terms, descriptors appear in bold face.

Lead-in Terms

Lead-in terms (also known as “non-preferred” terms) are not used in indexing. They are synonyms or alternate forms of subject descriptors that point to or “lead-in” to a single “preferred” descriptor. In the alphabetical display of subject terms, lead-in terms appear in regular typeface and in italics. Lead-in terms are followed by a reference to the authorized descriptor for the concept.

Form of Terms

In this thesaurus and by convention, English descriptors representing concrete objects or entities (things can be counted) normally appear in the plural form (e.g., “Colleges”, “Persons with disabilities”). Descriptors representing abstract concepts or collections of things (i.e., abstract or collective nouns) appear in the singular form (e.g., “Air quality”, “Energy”). In contrast, and again by linguistic convention, terms in the French thesaurus generally appear in the singular form. All terms appear in direct rather than inverted order as they would in natural speech (e.g., “Elementary education”, not “Education, elementary”)

Form of Display

The following example shows the form of display of an individual preferred term record.

T4 returns
déclaration de renseignements T4
Used For
T4 information returns
Broader Term
Narrower Term
statement of remuneration paid
T4 summary
Related Term
employment income
T4 internet filing
taxable benefits
Scope Note
A T4 information return consists of T4 slips and the related T4 summary form.

Display Elements

T4 returns

The subject descriptor of record (“T4 returns”)


The French equivalent appears in regular typeface immediately below the descriptor heading. In the French thesaurus (VSCARC), the French descriptor is shown with its own set of relations to other terms in that thesaurus.

Used for:

Under the category “Used for” are terms that are synonymous with the authorized indexing term. Synonyms are included in the thesaurus to lead indexers to the authorized indexing term; hence, they are known as “lead-in” terms. Do not select “Used for” terms as indexing terms; use only the authorized indexing terms (also known as “preferred terms”).

Lead-in term records are displayed as follows:

T4 information returns
T4 returns

Note the instruction to use “T4 returns” instead of “T4 information returns”

Broader Terms:

Broader terms are subject descriptors that are more general than the descriptor of record. In this example, “returns” are broader than “T4 returns”. Generally, broader and narrower terms are in a relationship of either a “genus / species” or “whole / part” relationship to the descriptor of record

Narrower Terms:

Narrower terms are more restricted in meaning than the descriptor of record.

Related Terms:

Related terms have a semantic, contextual or usage association with the descriptor of record that is exclusive of a “genus / species” or “whole / part” relationship.

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