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Open Data and PSI glossary pilot
APPSI glossary of Open Data and PSI terminology
APPSI is the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (PSI), a non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice. Its role is to provide advice to Ministers, the Director of OPSI and Controller of HMSO. It responds to relevant events and government consultations and comments on draft government papers and legislation. In this work it has become apparent that there is no consistent vocabulary for dealing with PSI or Open Data and this has sometimes caused confusion and misplaced emphasis. The most comprehensive glossary of terms to date has been compiled by The National Archives to inform the UK Government Licensing Framework for PSI. Certain terms have a specific meaning, defined in legislation. Some are words that are well defined in dictionaries.
However, rather than re-using stable definitions, it is observed that terms are often re-defined for documents produced by other organisations. In order to ensure consistency of definitions in its own deliberations, and encourage consistency across government, APPSI (in cooperation with the Cabinet Office) has initiated an exercise to aggregate and rationalise glossaries into a single preferred set of definitions.
Rather than decide on the most appropriate definitions internally, it was felt that the proposed definitions themselves should be offered to the wider PSI and Open Data communities for comment using a 'wiki' style mechanism - a site that allows multiple contributions to be combined to arrive at a consensus view of what is the most appropriate definition. Following a recommendation in the Open Data White Paper (Cm 8353), the Cabinet Office will work with APPSI to make a 'wiki' style site available to consult on the definitions proposed.
This site will be lightly moderated by members of APPSI and managed by the Cabinet Office. APPSI will consider and incorporate, where appropriate, suggestions from this site in its own cumulative glossary. The APPSI glossary will be revised from time to time and version numbered. Terms already defined in legislation or regulations will be identified specifically and these official definitions will not normally be changed. Where appropriate, a more colloquial definition of a legal term may be included in the main glossary, but such definitions will be annotated to point to the formal legal definition.
The initial glossary has been compiled from six glossaries from government documents and open data organisations. In addition we have added some definitions from other official sources and from our own deliberations. A cumulative list of preferred terms from all the sources has been assembled.
Definitions have been initially graded by members of APPSI:
***** Widely agreed definition or enshrined in legislation
**** A sound definition; fit for purpose
*** A working definition capable of improvement
** Usable but potentially confusing or ambiguous
* A loose or contentious definition; not adequate
Next stepsThis list of definitions, which has been tentatively accepted by APPSI, has been passed to the Cabinet Office for incorporation in the wiki. If this list is modified by APPSI new terms will be passed to the Cabinet Office.
The list will reside on the APPSI web pages and, until the wiki consultation is active, users are welcome to make any comments by email to email@example.com. Following the wiki consultation period, the list will continue to be maintained and further email comments will always be welcome.
This is a first, pre-consultation, draft of the Glossary which will remain available until the first phase of the consultation on terms has concluded. The first version to incorporate suggestions and comments gleaned from the wiki will be released after the wiki has been available for a minimum of 12 weeks in line with the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation. The status of the glossary will be advisory. However it should become normal good practice not to use defined terms loosely or to publish other PSI or Open Data glossaries without first referring to the APPSI glossary. Terms should not be re-defined without good reason, and where terms are, or need to be, re-defined, the reasons should be placed on the Cabinet Office wiki site or sent to APPSI.
It is hoped that the APPSI glossary will bring a much-needed degree of clarity to discussions and publications relating to the handling of PSI and Open Data.