Image: Fabien Barral via Unsplash
Wed 15 Sep 2021

ELSST is a broad-based, multilingual thesaurus for the social sciences. Find out about some of the most important changes to ELSST in this new release!

The latest version of the European Language Social Science Thesaurus (ELSST) was released on 14 September 2021. The previous version dates from June 2020.

ELSST is currently available in 14 languages (including the source language English), with translation of Preferred Terms 98-100% complete in each target language: Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish. Out of the 14 available languages, all have been updated, with the exception of Spanish, Danish and Czech.

Development work in this period has focused on the revision of the Environment hierarchy, and of terms related to sexuality and gender. The latter work is still in progress so the terms and structure in the thesaurus may undergo some further changes.

The following changes were made to the English source language version:

  • 19 new concepts
  • 4 deleted concepts
  • 9 relabelled Preferred Terms
  • 37 new Entry Terms
  • 11 deleted Entry Terms
  • 22 new or changed Definitions
  • 7 new or changed Scope Notes
  • 54 changes to the Broader/Narrower Concepts
  • 58 changes to Related Concepts
  • 32 new or changed History Notes.

For more information, see Release Notes for a summary of changes since the last release.

In addition to these changes, some housekeeping work was carried out. Note fields have been revised to make sure that thesaural elements within them comply with Skosmos terminology (for example, terms previously referred to as ‘Use For terms’ are now ‘Entry Terms’).

Definition Sources have also been revised. They are now only assigned to ELSST Definitions that match the language of the source from which they are drawn, and not to Definitions that have been translated in-house.

Software training and upgrade

In the last 12 months the ELSST team has been training translators to use VocBench, our new thesaurus management system. The ELSST Content Development and Technical teams have also worked closely with the system developers of both VocBench and Skosmos, the publishing platform, and implemented the latest versions of the software as they have become available. They are as follows: VocBench 3.9.1, and Skosmos 2.11.

Coming soon: further language version of ELSST

We are pleased to report that a Hungarian version of ELSST is currently being prepared by the Research Documentation Centre, Centre for Social Sciences, Budapest, Hungary. A new release of ELSST is planned for early 2022 to include the new language version.


ELSST is a broad-based, multilingual thesaurus for the social sciences. It is owned and published by CESSDA. ELSST is used for data discovery within CESSDA and facilitates access to data resources across Europe, independent of domain, resource, language or vocabulary.

The thesaurus covers the core social science disciplines: politics, sociology, economics, education, law, crime, demography, health, employment, information and communication technology and, increasingly, environmental science.

Find out more on Zenodo.