Special issue of Applied Ontology

Ontologies and Terminologies: Continuum or Dichotomy

The semantic content of terminologies and ontologies is similar, and so are their applicational contexts, which may introduce a confusion between these two types of resources.

Usually, a terminology is defined as a set of terms, which represents the system of concepts for an area and for an application. These terms remain linguistic entities and linguistic information may be associated with them. Term organization is usually not constrained by any formal logics or description, which may lead to problems like cyclicity and redundancy within a terminology.

As for ontologies, they are built upon formal specification and constraints and describe also a system of concepts and associated properties for a specific area. They are intended to be used by computers and automatic applications.

One may ask whether, in a specific situation, a terminology is sufficient, or whether an ontology is always required. In that respect, terminology and ontology are two complementary resources. However a weak definition of their similarities and differences may confuse the users.

The objectives of this special issue is to address various issues related to differences and similarities between ontologies and terminologies, such as:

  • What are the differences and similarities between ontologies and terminologies?
  • How various (formal, structural and content) differences between terminologies and ontologies may impact their use, as well as the results provided by automatic systems?
  • Are terminologies suitable for populating ontologies and to which extent?
  • Are terminologies the first step when building ontologies?
  • How should the reuse of terminologies be operated?
  • What are the various kinds of semantic resources going from dictionaries and terminologies to ontologies, through taxonomies and classifications?
  • How to decide whether a terminology or an ontology should be exploited in a given situation?
  • How can multilingual terminologies contribute to the localization of ontologies?
  • Whether the same approaches may be used for the building of terminologies and ontologies?
  • Whether ontologies can be (re)used for improving the contents of a terminology and vice versa?
  • What are model representations and algorithms for the best reuse of terminologies for ontology building?
  • Are automated approaches suitable for this?

This Special Issue of AO addresses these various questions, but is not limited to them.
Authors defending various positions and points of view are encouraged to submit to this special issue.


Jiye Ai, NLM/NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Nathalie Aussenac, University of Toulouse, France
Paul Buitelaar, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Sylvie Després, University Paris 13, Bobigny, France
Christiane D. Fellbaum, Princeton University, Princeton, USA
Anand Kumar, DSPIM, Université de Saint Etienne, France
Nathalie Hernandez, University of Toulouse, France
Marie-Claude l'Homme, OLST, Université de Montreal, Canada
Véronique Malaisé, Elsevier, Content Enrichment Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Fleur Mougin, LESIM, INSERM U897, ISPED, University Bordeaux Segalen, France
Aurélie Névéol, National Library of Medicine/NCBI, USA
Alessandro Oltramari, Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Psychology, USA
Chantal Reynaud, LRI Université Paris-Sud & INRIA Saclay Ile-de-France, France
Stefan Schulz, Medical University of Graz, Austria
Dagobert Sörgel, Library and Information Studies, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, USA
Rita Temmerman, Centre for Terminology and Communication, Departement of Applied Linguistics, Erasmus University College Brussels, Belgium
Maria Teresa Pazienza, Dept. of Enterprise Engineering/CERTIA, Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy
Hanne E. Thomsen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Susan Thomas, SAP, AG, Germany
Anna Tordai, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Karin Verspoor, University of Colorado School of Medicine, USA