Skip to main content

Discussing the applicability of a process core ontology and aspects of its internal quality


A well-engineered strategy should specify and integrate three capabilities: process, method, and domain terminology specifications. The domain terminology of different strategies should be based on reference vocabularies. Thus, a process ontology should be a common reference since it considers cross-cutting concerns for different domains. This paper defines and represents the main concepts of a process ontology. This process ontology is placed at the core level in the context of a five-tier ontological architecture, where at the top of it there is a single foundational ontology. The practical use of a foundational ontology is to semantically enrich the lower-level ontologies. For example, an ontology at the foundational level can enrich a process core ontology. In turn, the ontologies at the lower level of a core one, such as those at the domain level, can benefit from reusing and extending the core concepts. Therefore, a process core ontology can be considered as a reusable resource to semantically enrich domain ontologies. In an attempt to discuss the applicability of the developed process core ontology, this paper illustrates the semantic enrichment of two top-domain ontologies. By using the process ontology—and other core ontologies—as common terminological references, the domain ontologies used in the different strategies are conceptually harmonized. In this way, strategies ensure terminological uniformity and consistency, thus facilitating the understanding of process and method specifications. In addition, the built process core ontology is compared with another process core ontology concerning its ontological internal quality. Then, recommendations and actions for improvement were performed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  • Arp, R., Smith, B., Spear, A. (2015). Building ontologies with basic formal ontology, The MIT Press.

  • Becker, P., Papa, F., Olsina, L. (2015). Process ontology specification for enhancing the process compliance of a measurement and evaluation strategy. CLEI Electronic Journal, 18(1), pp. 1–26.

  • Becker, P., Papa, F., Tebes, G., Olsina L. (2021). Analyzing a process core ontology and its usefulness for different domains. In Springer Nature Switzerland AG book, CCIS 1439: Int’l Conference on the Quality of Information and Communication Technology, A. C. R. Paiva et al. (Eds.): QUATIC’21, pp. 183–196.

  • Bringuente, A. C., Falbo, R. A., & Guizzardi, G. (2011). Using a foundational ontology for reengineering a software process ontology. Journal of Information and Data Management, 2(3), 511–526.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clarke, P., Mesquida, A. L., Ekert, D., Ekstrom, J. J., Gornostaja, T., Jovanovic, M., et al. (2016). An investigation of software development process terminology. International Conference on Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination (pp. 351–361). Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Corcho, O., Fernández-López, M., Gómez-Pérez, A. (2003). Methodologies, tools and languages for building ontologies. Where is their meeting point? In: Data & knowledge engineering, 46(1), pp.41–64.

  • Curtis, B., Kellner, M., & Over, J. (1992). Process modelling. Communications of the ACM, 35(9), 75–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • D’Aquin, M., & Gangemi, A. (2011). Is there beauty in ontologies? Applied Ontology, 6(3), 165–175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dujmovic, J. (2007). Continuous preference logic for system evaluation. IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, 15(6), 1082–1099.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Falbo, R. A., & Bertollo, G. (2009). A software process ontology as a common vocabulary about software processes. International Journal of Business Process Integration and Management, 4, 239–250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fensel, D. (2004). Ontologies: A silver bullet for knowledge management and electronic commerce (2nd ed.). Springer-Verlag.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Garanina, N. O., Anureev, I. S., & Borovikova, O. I. (2019). Verification-oriented process ontology. Automatic Control and Computer Sciences, 53, 584–594.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • González-Pérez, C., & Henderson-Sellers, B. (2006). An antology for software development methodologies and endevours. In C. Calero, F. Ruiz, & M. Piattini (Eds.), Ontologies for software engineering and software technology (pp. 139–168). Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gruber, T. R. (1993). A translation approach to portable ontologies. Knowledge Acquisition, 5(2), 199–220.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guarino, N., Schneider, L. (2002). Ontology-driven conceptual modelling: advanced concepts. In: Spaccapietra S., March S.T., Kambayashi Y. (Eds) Conceptual modeling—ER 2002. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 2503. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

  • Guizzardi, G. (2005). Ontological foundations for structural conceptual models. PhD thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, ISBN 90–75176–81–3

  • Guizzardi, G., Falbo, R., Guizzardi, R. (2008). Grounding software domain ontologies in the unified foundational ontology (UFO): the case of the ODE software process ontology. In: 11th Conferencia Iberoamericana de Software Engineering (CIbSE’08), pp. 127–140.

  • Henderson-Sellers, B., Gonzalez-Perez, C., McBride, T., & Low, G. (2014). An ontology for ISO software engineering standards: 1) creating the infrastructure. Computer Standards & Interfaces, 36(3), 563–576.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herre, H. (2010). General formal ontology (GFO): a foundational ontology for conceptual modelling. Chapter 14 in Theory and applications of ontology: computer applications, vol. 2. Springer, Berlin, pp. 297–345.

  • Horsch, T., Chiacchiera, S., Seaton, A., Todorov, T., Schembera, B., Klein, P., Konchakova, A. (2021). Pragmatic interoperability and translation of industrial engineering problems into modelling and simulation solutions. TR. No. 2020–A, 2nd Revised Version,

  • Iacovelli, A., Souveyet, C. (2011). Towards common ground in SME: an ontology of method descriptors. In: Ralyté, J., Mirbel, I., Deneckère, R. (Eds.): Engineering methods in the service oriented context. Proceeding of 4th IFIP WG8.1 Working Conference on Method Engineering (ME 2011), Paris, France. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, IFIP Advances in Information and Communcation Technolgy, Vol. 351, pp. 77–90.

  • ISO/IEC. (2008). International Organization for Standardization. Systems and software engineering - software life cycle processes. ISO/IEC Standard 12207:2008.

  • ISO/IEC. (2010). International Organization for Standardization. Systems and software engineering — life cycle management — specification for process description. ISO/IEC TR 24774, 2nd Ed. 2010–09.

  • ISO/IEC. (2021). International Organization for Standardization. Information technology - top-level ontologies (TLO) - part 1: requirements. ISO/IEC Standard 21838–1, 1st Ed. 2021–08.

  • Masolo, C., Borgo, S., Gangemi, A., Guarino, N., Oltramari, A., Schneider, L. (2002). The WonderWeb library of foundational ontologies (Deliverable D17), Available at

  • Milanović, M., Gašević, D., Giurca, A., Wagner, G. (2006). On interchanging between OWL/SWRL and UML/OCL. In: Proceedings of 6th OCL Workshop at the UML/MoDELS Conference (OCLApps 2006), Genova, Italy.

  • Morales-Trujillo, M., Oktaba, H., Hernandez-Quiroz, F., & Escalante-Ramirez, B. (2018). Towards a formalization of a framework to express and reason about software engineering methods. Computing and Informatics, 37(1), 109–141.

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  • Morales-Trujillo, M., Oktaba, H., Piattini, M., & Escalante-Ramirez, B. (2019). Bottom-up authoring of software engineering methods and practices. Journal of Applied Research and Technology, 17(1), 28–43.

    Google Scholar 

  • Olsina, L. (2021). Applicability of a foundational ontology to semantically enrich the core and domain ontologies. In: 13th International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management, Vol. 2: KEOD (Knowledge Engineering and Ontology Development), Portugal, pp. 111–119, ISBN 978–989–758–533–3.

  • Olsina, L., Becker, P. (2017). Family of strategies for different evaluation purposes. In: 20th Conferencia Iberoamericana en Software Engineering (CIbSE’17) held in the framework of ICSE, CABA, Argentina, Published by Curran Associates 2017, pp. 221–234.

  • OMG. (2008). Software & Systems Process Engineering Meta-Model Specification, version 2.0.

  • Renault, L., Barcellos, M., Falbo, R. (2018). Using an ontology-based approach for integrating applications to support software processes. In: 17th Brazilian Symposium on Software Quality (SBQS). ACM, New York, NY, USA, pp. 220–229

  • Rodriguez, D., Garcia, E., Sanchez, S., & Nuzzi, C.R.-S. (2010). Defining software process model constraints with rules using OWL and SWRL. International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering, 20(4), 533–548.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ruiz, F., Hilera, J.R. (2006). Using ontologies in software engineering and technology. Chapter 2, In: Ontologies in software engineering and software technology, Calero, C., Ruiz, F., Piattini, M. (Eds). Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp .49–102, (2006).

  • Ruy, F.B., Falbo, R.A., Barcellos, M.P., Costa, S.D., Guizzardi, G. (2016). SEON: a software engineering ontology network. In: 20th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management, pp. 527–542.

  • SEI. (2010). Capability Maturity Model Integration—CMMI-DEV 1.3. Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • Tebes, G., Olsina, L., Peppino, D., Becker, P. (2021). Specifying and analyzing a software testing ontology at the top-domain ontological level. In: Journal of Computer Science & Technology (JCS&T), vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 126–145, doi:

  • van Heijst, G., Schreiber, A. Th., Wielinga, B.J. (1997). Using explicit ontologies in KBS development. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol 46, pp. 183–292, Academic Press, Inc. Duluth, MN, USA.

Download references


This line of research is supported partially by the Engineering School at Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, Argentina, in the project named “Family of Strategies for Functional and Non-Functional Software Testing considering Different Test Goal Purposes.”

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Luis Olsina.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Becker, P., Papa, M.F., Tebes, G. et al. Discussing the applicability of a process core ontology and aspects of its internal quality. Software Qual J (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Process
  • Core ontology
  • Foundational ontology
  • Domain ontology
  • Semantic enrichment
  • Ontological internal quality