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The Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Keywords are a widely-used collection of controlled, structured vocabularies. Although created for use within the specific domain of earth sciences, the Keywords are also used more broadly across the sciences.

Research Vocabularies Australia republishes the GCMD Keywords as a service for southern-hemisphere users. All of the original content is made available through a variety of access formats.

Publication policy


The GCMD Keywords are republished in Research Vocabularies Australia in these ways:

  • Each of the eleven concept schemes is available as a separate vocabulary.
  • There is an additional vocabulary GCMD Combined Keywords whose content is the combination of all of the keywords of the eleven concept schemes.

You can get a list of the vocabularies using this search: All GCMD vocabularies on Research Vocabularies Australia.


ARDC will republish the releases of the GCMD Keywords from Version 8.6 onwards, and maintain access to versions as they are superseded. You can use Research Vocabularies Australia's notification system to subscribe to updates to the GCMD Keywords if you wish to be alerted as soon as a new version becomes available through Research Vocabularies Australia.

It has been the practice of the maintainers of the GCMD Keywords to release a tagged, major version on approximately a yearly basis; these are numbered 8.5, 8.6, etc. Although ARDC will republish each such major version, we have no current plans to republish the intermediate, unnumbered versions made as part of the "fast track" process. Contact if you require access to keywords that have been added since the release of the most recent major version.

Version titles

Each republished version of a concept scheme has a version title, which is derived from the top-level metadata contained in the vocabulary data fetched from NASA. For example, the GCMD Chronostratigraphic Units Types Keywords vocabulary has a version with title "8.6 2015-09-02". The format of these titles is "VERSION DATE", where VERSION is the major version (8.6), and DATE is the date included in the concept scheme's metadata (2015-09-02). Note that across the various concept schemes, there may be versions with the same major version, but with different dates.

The combination vocabulary GCMD Combined Keywords has version titles that work differently. The date on which ARDC republishes an updated set of versions is used as the DATE component of this version title. For example, there is a version with version title "8.6 2019-01-10", which means that the vocabulary data was last downloaded from NASA on 2019-01-10.

Access formats

The vocabulary data of each version is available as a direct download, through a SPARQL endpoint, the Linked Data API, and the Vocabulary Widget.

ARDC modifications

The RDF data in the vocabularies has been modified by ARDC as follows:

  • Triples have been added to express skos:hasTopConcept and skos:topConceptOf relations. This makes it easier for other services to "consume" the vocabulary data. In particular, the addition of these triples enables the RVA Vocabulary Widget to operate correctly in "tree" mode.

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