Ontolog Forum

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OntologySummit2010: Present "Requirements" - Synthesis of the Discussion

This is the workspace for the co-champions to synthesize the discussion on this track.

Track Label: Requirements - Subtrack Label: Present

Track Champion: AmandaVizedom

Mission: To survey the existing roles filled and activites performed by working ontologists, along with the skills required and where they typically get them.

Pertinent questions:

  • Where do ontologists currently work?
  • What organization types (companies, departments, institutions, agencies, etc.)?
  • What project types (long/short term, part of larger system/program, focus on IT|KM|search|interop|metadata|other)?
  • What fields or industries?
  • What folks are doing KOS work that is within or heading toward ontology, but may not be labeled as such?
  • What tasks do working ontologists perform and as roughly how much of their time (requirements gathering, elicitation, informal modeling, formal modeling, formal testing, user testing, "gold standard" and/or regression testing)?
  • What skills do working ontologists typically acquire on the job, and what via formal training?
  • What training do they wish they had, but don't have?
  • What skills do employers expect?
  • What formal training do employers expects?
  • How do employers select ontologists when hiring?


Requirements Panel

Requirements Survey

The 2010 Ontology Summit community is in general agreement that the most valuable and urgently needed training will be informed not only by theoretical considerations but also, and centrally, by the needs of ontologists seeking employment and employers seeking quality, useful ontologists. Our understanding of those needs, however, has been scattered and divergent. Several discussions, a Panel session, and a survey were undertaken with the aim of improving this understanding.

We wanted to developing a richer and more clear picture of the requirements of ontologist employability (that is, those trained should well-prepared for the available jobs) and deployability (that is, those who hire trained ontologists find them ready and able to perform the needed work). To that end, we aimed to bring a strong "end-user" voice to the conversation. Each of our panelists embodied one or more end-user perspectives. Most had some combination of experience as a working ontologist, an employer, a manager, an evaluator or on-the-job trainer of ontologists, and a gatherer of lessons learned from full life-cycle ontology projects.

The Requirements Survey was developed, in part, from the results of the discussions and Panel contributions. In addition to basic respondent information, the survey included two main types of questions. One set of questions elicited information about the respondents relationship to ontology, for example: as a working ontologist, as a technical person on a border between ontology and another field, as a potential future ontologist, as an employer, manager, or evaluator of ontologist, as someone otherwise dependent on ontology work and its outcomes. Another set of questions elicited information about the nature of ontology work from the respondent's perspective: skills and knowledge needed, depth of training needed, types of work included, prioritization of necessary knowledge and skills. distributed...

Sixty-four individuals responded to the survey. Of these sixty-four, forty-one described themselves as very familiar with ontology and seventeen said they were somewhat familiar. Most respondents came from organizations in the Education (17), Government(12), Scientific and Technical Research and Development(10) and Information Technology (10) sectors, with addition representation in Cross-sector consulting (5), Manufacturing (3), and others (8).Almost half of respondents identified their primary function as Research (31). The next most selected functions were Teaching and Training (16), Technical Lead (development) (12), Project Management (9), Enterprise Level Management (8) and Knowledge Management (8). Fifteen other responses, including "other," were represented (45, combined). It should be noted that most questions in this survey permitted multiple answers, so respondents may be in more than one response category for these and most other questions.

Most respondents were in some way directly involved in the ontology work, as developers (29), designers (31), evaluators (28), researchers (41), or past participants in these activities (7). Future ontologists were also well-represented, with eighteen respondents expressing the hope or expectation of future ontology development or design work. Three expressed uncertainty over whether the work they did made them ontologists or not, and ten did not personally do ontology work at all. The questions concerning areas of training, experience, skill, and knowledge were presented with a fairly long list of potential answers and one or more open-ended options. It was clear from the preceding Summit discussions and panel input that it would be infeasible to include all areas suggested by participants. It was important, however, to include at least a sampling across these areas, such that respondents would not be primed to confirm or disconfirm some particular prioritization over others (or at least, that the skewing potential of such priming suggestion would be minimized). To that end, we made a point of including choices that were both: research-oriented and applied; domain-specific and not domain specific; application-centric and ontology-centric; machine-centric and human-centric; methodology-centric and tool-centric; theoretical and hands-on; inside and outside of the most restrictive views of what constitutes ontology. We did, however, draw one boundary explicitly: that between the philosophical field of ontology and the field of applied, formal ontology as encountered in information and computer sciences.

A broad range of requirements were identified by significant numbers of participants, including: logic and formal semantics, working with subject matter experts, knowledge representation, Ontology mapping, Extracting knowledge from existing corpora, Ontology lifecycle, conceptual modeling, and others. However, the ranking of these requirements varied significantly across respondent characteristics. ...table...

Combined Summary


Draft of Requirements Inputs to the Communique

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