Ontology Engineering, Scientific Method and the Research Agenda

  • Hans Akkermans
  • Jaap Gordijn
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4248)


The call for a “focus on content” in ontology research by Nicola Guarino and Mark Musen in their launching statement of the journal Applied Ontology has quite some implications and ramifications. We reflectively discuss ontology engineering as a scientific discipline, and we put this into the wider perspective of debates in other fields. We claim and argue that ontology is a new scientific method for theory formation. This positioning allows for stronger concepts and techniques for theoretical, empirical and practical validation that in our view are now needed in the field. A prerequisite for this is an emphasis on ontology as a (domain) content oriented concept, rather than as primarily a computer representation notion. We propose that taking domain theories and the associated substantive or content reference of ontologies really seriously as first-class citizens, will actually increase the contribution of ontology engineering to the development of scientific method in general. Next, ontologies should develop from the current static representations of relatively stable domain content into actionable theories-in-use, and a possible way forward is to build in capabilities for dynamic self-organization of ontologies as service-oriented knowledge utilities that can be delivered over the Web.


Knowledge Management Requirement Engineering Requirement Engineer Content Reference Ontology Engineer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Akkermans
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jaap Gordijn
    • 1
  1. 1.Business Informatics Department (FEW/BI)Free University Amsterdam VUAAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.AKMC Knowledge Management BVKoedijkThe Netherlands

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