The BODC Parameter Usage Vocabulary (PUV) and its semantic model

The BODC PUV is a controlled vocabulary for labelling variables in databases and data files in oceanography and related domains. It is a collection of unique and persistent identifiers attached to structurally logical labels and textual definitions.

It is a SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organisation Systems) controlled vocabulary. This means that its structure is compliant with SKOS, a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendation. Each entry in P01 is associated with a 8-byte parameter code, a preferred label, an optional alternative label, a definition field, and a status (accepted or deprecated). Each label is time-stamped with its creation date and its last modified date. All intermediate versions are saved and are accessible from the publicly available record. A term is never deleted but it can be made obsolete by deprecation.

One important feature of the BODC PUV is that it is based on a semantic model. The semantic model allows us to create complex information-rich labels that are syntactically and semantically consistent. This presentation explains how the semantic model works.

How can I access it?

The P01 PUV is a very large collection containing over 40,000 terms. It can be searched or browsed using the following tools:

SKOS mappings between these vocabularies are available as XML documents:

The P01 PUV can also be downloaded in its entirety as an RDF file using this link In addition to the accepted and deprecated terms, this file also contains over 300,000 SKOS mapping links to other terminologies including links to the concepts used to construct the preferred label, links to broader terms to enable discovery and classification, and links to related concepts like, for example, units of measurements.

For users with knowledge of SPARQL, the P01 ant its mappings can also be searched via the NVS SPARQL endpoint

A useful scientific resource

We encourage research scientists to use P01 URIs when labelling their data. Instead of using acronyms or long titles for parameter names they can assign an individual code from the dictionary. This eliminates communication problems and eases data transfer. The codes translate into parameter descriptions that conform to standardised syntax and vocabulary and have a rich set of classification mappings available.

How can I contribute?

To learn more about the P01 Parameter Usage Vocabulary and how to contribute please visit We have created this github public repository to increase community involvement and coordinate effort to add or improve content. Alternatively you can contact the Vocabulary Management Group by email at