A successful search for information starts with using the right terms. Whether you are looking in a library catalog, a reports database, or a glossary of related terms, transportation research is particularly challenging for a number of reasons. It consists of many technical concepts that include (but are certainly not limited to) aspects of engineering, finance, law, chemistry, physics, geology, planning, and other disciplines. It is also interdisciplinary, adding complexity to the challenge of searching for and finding appropriate information.
Other challenges to locating information include the inconsistent use of (and search for) synonyms, acronyms and abbreviations vs. spelling words out, variant spellings of terms, and pluralization vs. singular words. We incorporate the Metro Dictionary Terms and Transportation Research Thesaurus terminology into our catalog records, documents, and digitized resources to bring greater consistency and retrievability to the search for information. Eventually, this controlled vocabularly will assist in yielding predictable and reliable federated searching across all transportation resources that are publicly accessible.
Dictionary of Terms (Metro's Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library)
In 1998, we began compiling and editing a dictionary of transportation terminology. It integrated resources from various Metro departments, Metrolink, the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (NTSC), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). We continue to edit the dictionary as terminology changes or is introduced by Metro (e.g. from new projects and programs). It is available to search as well as many other useful dictionaries and glossaries below.
Our Dictionary of more than 3,000 entries can be searched by a particular term or acronym itself (such as ATU or Amalgamated Transit Union) or for the occurrence of a term or phrase in the text of a definition (such as design). This is done by clicking on buttons for either Term, Definition, or All. Use the "search on match" and select "starts with" to return lists of definitions that begin with a particular letter of the alphabet, partial word, whole word or phrase. For the full list of terms, leave "Search Terms" box blank and click "Go." It may take a minute or so for the full list to be returned. You may choose a category within which to search for terms: Administration, Bus Operations, Construction, Finance, Metrolink, Planning, Rail Operations, Spanish Phrases & Terms, Transit History.
Transportation Research Thesaurus (U.S. Transportation Research Board)
The Transportation Research Thesaurus (TRT) was initially developed under NCHRP Project 20-32 to provide a tool to improve the indexing and retrieval of transportation information. Serving as both a dictionary and a taxonomy, the thesaurus covers all modes and aspects of transportation. A primary use will be to provide a common and consistent language between producers and users of the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) Database. The thesaurus is currently also used as an indexing tool for federal, state and university collections. The thesaurus can be navigated several ways. If you know the hierarchal scheme, click on the Top term on the left side of the screen. To browse the entire hierarchy, click on the Herarchical View link at the top of the screen. If you know the first word of the term, click on the Alphabetical View link at the top of the screen. If you are unsure of the correct term, enter the term in the search box at the top of the screen.
Use * for multiple character truncation. For example, financ* finds finance, finances, financing, financed, and financial
Use # for single character truncation. For example, wom#n retrieves both woman and women
Use Boolean searching: AND, OR, NOT. For example, control AND traffic NOT air
Other transportation dictionaries, glossaries, acronym guides:
CalTrans Transportation Acronyms (MS Word document)
Illustrated Glossary for Transport Statistics (Europe) (PDF)
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