n.an enumerated list of terms preselected from natural language and chiefly used to aid discovery in information retrieval systemsCampbell 1967, 281Machine retrieval in archives is in a way forced to use a controlled vocabulary, and this does mean that somebody must select the keywords.Bearman 1989, 287Authority control, as currently practiced in archives and library systems, employs a controlled vocabulary to restrict what is entered in the fields of a cataloging database to values contained in external authority files.Dooley 1992, 352If users frequently are frustrated by “zero hits” subject search results, the researcher should ask whether this might in part reflect inconsistent indexing and should consider whether cross references from a controlled vocabulary would help, rather then just concluding that subject indexing is useless for access to archival materials.Durance 1993, 41Without a controlled vocabulary, one cannot ensure the retrievability of the records sought and only those records. There is no coherent road-map. By “controlled vocabulary” is meant the totality of all the identified access points, the preferred terms and the linkages established among preferred and variant terms within a particular [authority] file.Bowers 2010The approximately 1,300 terms in this thesaurus come from many sources; before weeding, there were nearly 5,000 seed terms that originated in several existing controlled and uncontrolled vocabularies.Schaefer and Bunde 2013, 44For some elements, however, the most appropriate content is derived from a controlled vocabulary, or a pre-specified set of terms.Craft, Gwynn, and Smith 2016, 196The cataloging staff also played an essential role in the choice, development, and application of controlled vocabularies for this collection. Collection level metadata included Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) terms, applied across-the-board to all items to facilitate item collocation in cross-repository searches. An additional controlled vocabulary, called “content formats,” was assigned at the scrapbook level. This local vocabulary was developed in-house through cooperation between catalogers and archivists and was used to document materials of particular importance within the scrapbooks.Cline 2022, 133Establishing access points to records through the application of controlled vocabularies and writing useful scope and content notes are essential components in constructing modern finding aids.
Controlled vocabularies may be managed locally or shared by a broad community and controlled by an institutional authority. An example of a nationally standardized controlled vocabulary is the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Archivists include terms from controlled vocabularies in their descriptions of archival resources.