Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS) in the Semantic Web: a multi-dimensional review

  • Marcia Lei Zeng
  • Philipp Mayr


Since the Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) specification and its SKOS eXtension for Labels (SKOS-XL) became formal W3C recommendations in 2009, a significant number of conventional Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS) (including thesauri, classification schemes, name authorities, and lists of codes and terms, produced before the arrival of the ontology-wave) have made their journeys to join the Semantic Web mainstream. This paper uses “LOD KOS” as an umbrella term to refer to all of the value vocabularies and lightweight ontologies within the Semantic Web framework. The paper provides an overview of what the LOD KOS movement has brought to various communities and users. These are not limited to the colonies of the value vocabulary constructors and providers, nor the catalogers and indexers who have a long history of applying the vocabularies to their products. The LOD dataset producers and LOD service providers, the information architects and interface designers, and researchers in sciences and humanities, are also direct beneficiaries of LOD KOS. The paper examines a set of the collected cases (experimental or in real applications) and aims to find the usages of LOD KOS in order to share the practices and ideas among communities and users. Through the viewpoints of a number of different user groups, the functions of LOD KOS are examined from multiple dimensions. This paper focuses on the LOD dataset producers, vocabulary producers, and researchers (as end-users of KOS).


Linked Open Data Knowledge Organization Systems LOD KOS functions Personas 



We want to thank all reviewers for their positive and constructive comments which helped to improve this paper. In addition, we thank all our co-organizers of former NKOS workshops and all participants of NKOS-related events for their continuously input and feedback which motivated us to write this paper. Supplementary materials (e.g., high-resolution figures) of this paper are available under


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of InformationKent State UniversityOhioUSA
  2. 2.GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social SciencesCologneGermany

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