Exploring the needs in ontology development

Impressions from the 2nd Ontologies4Chem workshop

The second Ontologies4Chem workshop attracted about 50 professionals to explore the evolving needs in ontology development and its application to annotation of research data in chemistry.
The discussions explored the complexities of chemical ontology curation and highlighted the need for greater involvement of both domain and ontology experts.
Significant advances in tools and services were presented at the workshop, in particular the NFDI4Chem Terminology Service, which is uniquely designed to facilitate both ontology provision and curation while engaging a broader expert base.

Improving quality, standardisation and interoperability

The major focus was on strategies to improve ontology quality, standardisation and interoperability. In this regard, there were rigorous discussions on curation workflows employing tools such as ODK, as well as recommendations for FAIR metadata for ontologies.
NFDI4Chem and IUPAC associates presented a guideline endorsing the IUPAC Gold Book as a canonical source for term definitions in chemical ontologies, promoting standardisation and authoritative definitions, and thereby increasing clarity and consistency across chemical ontologies.

Practical examples of ontologies were also provided, with user-friendly data annotation tools such as SWATE and Ontomaton highlighted for their role in generating semantically rich research data.
Looking ahead, the workshop emphasised the importance of fostering collaboration between domain and ontology experts and the wider integration of ontologies into different research tools.

The workshop ended with a plea for combined efforts, standardisation and strategic communication, underlining the common goal of advancing the field of chemical ontologies.

Recordings of the presentations are available on the NFDI4Chem YouTube channel and the full report can be found on Zenodo.