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This question is not technical or relating to implementation, but hope it is still useful..

Noy and McGuinness[1] provide some reasons for wanting to develop an ontology:

  • To share common understanding of the structure of information among people or software agents
  • To enable reuse of domain knowledge
  • To make domain assumptions explicit
  • To separate domain knowledge from the operational knowledge
  • To analyze domain knowledge

But is anyone aware of ontologies being designed or used as a research method for investigating some domain? Since many of these reasons may equally apply for data analyses in social research. Are ontologies being used outside of the field of information science and not just for the purpose of knowledge representation and knowledge sharing?

For example, using the inferencing capability of a query engine, one can gain an understanding of specific patterns in complex qualitative data. Or using RDF representations of social networks, one could exploit semantic graph data of RDF for social network analysis, which traditionally relies on graph algorithms or algebraic approaches[2]. I am sure there are other aspects of ontologies and RDF which would be useuful for data management and analysis that go beyond knowledge representation, perhaps to facilitate existing methodologies (grounded theory, participatory research, practice theory, etc.).

Any examples, references or reading would be great! Thanks

[1]NF Noy, DL McGuinness, 2001, 'Ontology Development 101: A Guide to Creating Your First Ontology', 2001.

[2] Erétéo, G, Buffa, M, Gandon, F & Corby, O 2009, 'Analysis of a real online social network using semantic web frameworks', The Semantic Web-ISWC 2009, pp. 180–195. Available from: http://www.springerlink.com/index/N835515058450N52.pdf.

asked 08 Sep '11, 23:10

edan's gravatar image

edan
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(I don't know whether I really understand your question)

Well, I would tend to say that this is the way ontology is utilised in philosophy²:

The "science of describing being and the world" that was called Metaphysics. This term was later redefined as metaphysica generalis which is also called ontologia (ontology). This term is from the Greek onto for "being" and logia for "written or spoken discourse".

Generally, Semantic Web ontologies are more or less only utilised for knowledge representation. Everything else happens on top of these knowledge representation, e.g., inferencing, social network analysis etc.

Examples for Semantic Web ontologies that can be utilised in the context of social net works are:

²) that's also where this term came from, and I personally do not see any reason why we should really differentiate between 'ontology in philosophy' and 'ontology in information science'; it's only the view point which is inversed

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answered 09 Sep '11, 05:21

zazi's gravatar image

zazi
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accept rate: 13%

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question asked: 08 Sep '11, 23:10

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last updated: 09 Sep '11, 05:21