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Ontology for Radiological Terrorism Research


The ontology was created from the Radiological Terrorism Research Thesaurus, specifically constrained to the portions under the term “material sources” and “consequence management” (now called response). Other classes not found in these areas, but referenced by fields in these areas, are included, but not developed—this includes Organization, Event, Expertise, Person, and Material and their subclasses.


Terrorism is an incredibly important issue, and agencies within the US and worldwide need to meet the challenge of compiling and organizing research in a number of fields in order to counter this very real threat. In addition, agencies have been criticized in the past for not sharing information, or maintaining knowledge organization systems (KOS) which are incompatible with each other. Work is often duplicated, and often vital information will be unavailable to some agencies even though it has already been archived by others.

Clearly, there is a need for a large-scale KOS that can be used to organize information efficiently and correctly, allow for complex analysis of information, and allow for easy knowledge sharing between agencies. The most flexible and powerful KOS, and therefore the most appropriate, is an ontology. Classes, subclasses and relationships are developed and then appropriate fields are created for each. This allows for faceted search and display, automated search, hierarchical organization of information, and interoperability with other systems.


This is just a sample of the larger, more complete ontology. The complete ontology would be useful for virtually any person or agency dealing with anti-terrorism, counterterrorism, intelligence or consequence management. The ontology will allow risk assessment officers, for example, to see a list of every high-level material source in the United States and Canada and their coordinates. Medical first responders could use it to catalog and retrieve proper treatments for specific bioterrorism agents. And if widely-adopted, it would greatly reduce the barriers to efficient knowledge-sharing. If the Department of Energy we to license a new Uranium mine in Montana, the information would be immediate available to risk-assessment officers, instead of requiring time for the paperwork to make its way over to the Department of Homeland Security.


View and navigate the ontology

A Thesaurus for Radiological Terrorism Research

Changes in this Edition

A number of changes have been made in this revision. Changes to scope notes, terms, and related terms are highlighted throughout this document. These changes should clarify the precise meaning and use. Sturctural changes to broader and narrower term relationships are explained below.

One of the major structural changes is the removal of “radiological terrorism” as a root word for the entire thesaurus. Putting everything under one term was not my initial idea, but the use of the hierarchical display for both input and output lead me to think that was the preferred structure. I have removed “combating radiological terrorism,” “environmental effects,” “radiation protection,” “radioactive isotopes,” “radioactive material sources,” and “radiological injuries” from under “radiological terrorism.”

Still, I think “radiological terrorism goals,” “radiological terrorism scenarios,” and “radiological terrorism requirements” are necessary parts of “radiological terrorism,” so I have kept the first two in the hierarchy and added the third. This leads to multiple inheritance for “radiological terrorism requirements,” which is both a necessary part of “radiological terrorism” and “intelligence.”


The CTRS Radiological Terrorism Thesaurus contains descriptive terms used throughout radiological terrorism literature. The terms, their relationships, and their use were culled from several documents, including:

The thesaurus is presented in three forms: first, an alphabetical display of all included terms, including scope notes, preferred terms and synonyms, broader, narrower and related terms, and any scope notes; second, a hierarchical display of preferred terms only; and third, a rotated display of all terms.

Several relationships may be defined for any term in the thesaurus. Scope Notes (SN) are more detailed descriptions of a term’s use when necessary. A preferred term (USE) is a synonym for the term that has been selected for most uses—non-preferred terms do not show up in the hierarchical view. A non-preferred term (UF) is a synonym that may be found in the literature but is not used in the hierarchy. Broader terms (BT) are terms that represent more general classes of the current term. Narrower terms (NT) represent more specific instances or parts of the current term. Finally, related terms (RT) are related to the current term but not in any of the ways already noted.

View the Thesaurus [pdf]