Creator of Knowledge
Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Using Ontology Languages for Conceptual Modeling

Using Ontology Languages for Conceptual Modeling
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Author(s): Palash Bera (Texas A&M International University, USA), Anna Krasnoperova (Bootlegger, Canada) and Yair Wand (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Copyright: 2010
Volume: 21
Issue: 1
Pages: 28
Source title: Journal of Database Management (JDM)
Editor(s)-in-Chief: Keng Siau (Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jdm.2010112301


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Conceptual models are used to support understanding of and communication about application domains in information systems development. Such models are created using modeling grammars (usually employing graphic representation). To be effective, a grammar should support precise representation of domain concepts and their relationships. Ontology languages such as OWL emerged to define terminologies to support information sharing on the Web. These languages have features that enable representation of semantic relationships among domain concepts and of domain rules, not readily possible with extant conceptual modeling techniques. However, the emphasis in ontology languages has been on formalization and being computer-readable, not on how they can be used to convey domain semantics. Hence, it is unclear how they can be used as conceptual modeling grammars. We suggest using philosophically based ontological principles to guide the use of OWL as a conceptual modeling grammar. The paper presents specific guidelines for creating conceptual models in OWL and demonstrates, via example, the application of the guidelines to creating representations of domain phenomena. To test the effectiveness of the guidelines we conducted an empirical study comparing how well diagrams created with the guidelines support domain understanding in comparison to diagrams created without the guidelines. The results indicate that diagrams created with the guidelines led to better domain understanding of participants.

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