Collaborative Patterns in Large-Scale Ontology Development Projects

Today, distributed teams collaboratively create and maintain more and more ontologies. To support this type of ontology development, software engineers are introducing a new generation of tools. However, we know relatively little about how existing large-scale collaborative ontology development work and what are the user workflows that the tools must support.
In this presentation, I will discuss experiences in supporting several such projects. I will describe a visual and interactive project-management tool, which helps ontology developers explore historical ontology change and discussion data. I will also present the results of qualitative and quantitative studies of the collaborative activity associated with three large-scale ontology-development projects: National Cancer Institute’s Thesaurus, the 11th revision of the International Classification of Disease, and the Biomedical Resources Ontology. Finally, I will discuss how the roles of a user lead to different patterns of ontology editing behavior, which has important implications for ontology-development tools.
Dr. Sean Falconer is a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Stanford Center for Biomedical Research. Dr. Falconer has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Victoria, Canada, where his research focused on understanding how users can be supported during data integration tasks and how this knowledge can be translated into design guidelines for data integration tools. His current research is focused on collaborative ontology editing, ontology visualization, and user interfaces for ontology-driven search. Dr. Falconer is particularly interested in applications of crowdsourcing for the development of the semantic web and as part of the Protege team, he has been working with the World Health Organization to help apply these methods to the development of the International Classification of Disease.