The Top 10 Errors To Avoid When Building Ontologies

1. Mixing singulars and plurals

"National Socialism is_a political systems" -- MeSH


2. Mixing concepts with entities in reality "CONCEPT is_a Veterinary proprietary drug AND/OR  biological" -- SNOMED CT "infectious organism is_a navigational concept" -- SNOMED CT


3. Mixing words with entities in reality distinguishing 26 kinds of chemicals:

"chemicals whose names begin with A",

"chemicals whose names begin with B", ... -- Read Codes (old versions)


4. Mixing ontology and epistemology

"'no known allergies' is an allergy to the allergen 'no known allergies'" -- Cerner "cardiac output is_a Laboratory or Test Result or Diagnostic Procedure" -- UMLS Semantic Network


5. confusing entities with data

"contact area of molecule has type integer", "interacting atom pairs has type string" -- early versions of Immune Epitope Ontology


6. using 'other'

"Other problems with special functions"; "Other motor vehicle non-traffic accident of other and unspecified nature injuring passenger in motor vehicle other than motorcycle" -- early versions of Disease Ontology (DO)


7. classifying entities on the basis of incidental features "classification of humans by bra cup size" -- CYC "Cell is_a Plant Cell" -- old versions of Plant Ontology "Water is a type of Nursing Phenomenon of Physical Environment with the specific characteristics: Clear liquid compound of hydrogen and oxygen that is essential for most plant and animal life influencing life and development of human beings." -- International Classification of Nursing Procedures (older versions)


8. using circular definitions

"An integer_number is an arithmetic_number that is an integer number" -- ISO 15926 Oil and Gas Ontology


9. overloading is_a

"virus is_a environment ontology" -- Gramene Environment Ontology "cow is_a kingdom animalia"; "Prisheksninsk pig breed is_a organism" -- SNOMED CT


10. not thinking

"vomitus contains carrot" -- GALEN

"repair and maintenance of wheelchair is_a disease" -- early versions of DO