NFDI4Chem Terminology Service Launched

NFDI4Chem proudly announces the launch of its Terminology Service for the Chemistry community. 

What is it good for, you ask?

As you probably know, the FAIR data principles play a key role in the development of the NFDI. Specifically, one  of the principles calls  for rich metadata describing data by using a formal, accessible, shared, and broadly applicable language for knowledge representation. The ambiguity of natural language words and phrases used to annotate data with their meaning has been a major obstacle so far. Here we can achieve a significant improvement through the application of domain-specific terminologies which allows us to unambiguously annotate data semantically. Standardised vocabularies mapped across the various disciplines enable real data interoperability, discovery and exploitation beyond our own domain.

Our Terminology Service provides such chemistry specific terminologies or ontologies. This enables researchers, software tools and services of NFDI4Chem to create machine- and human-readable descriptions of research data.

The first release of the Terminology Service facilitates exploration and browsing of existing ontologies in chemistry. You can search for terms and their usage in the different ontologies. Additionally, you can view ontology statistics and associated descriptive metadata or download ontology files. Various visualisation options are available to explore an ontology and the relations of terms. The curation function supports the suggestion of new ontologies or the recommendation of missing terms to the curator.

The Terminology Services further provides an extensive API to be used by other services and software tools. One example is the integration of terminologies when using the chemotion ELN to annotate experimental descriptions with terms of name reactions in organic chemistry from the RXNO ontology. RXNO provides a controlled vocabulary to unambiguously describe applied reactions. The encoded semantics, logic and taxonomy of reaction classes enable semantic queries on annotated data in the future. In the same way data repositories can use the Terminology Service to support the semantic annotation of research data during the upload process.

In the future this approach will enable interoperability of heterogeneous databases and cross-database semantic search. This will allow to overcome the limitation of keyword based searches moving to a search using the meaning of a keyword instead. 

The first release of the Terminology Service provides 18 ontologies identified to be useful for NFDI4Chem. It will be further developed in the future to include more ontologies, extended features, and linking tools for ontology curation and design.

If you have suggestions for terminologies / ontologies to be added or are interested in joining NFDI4Chem ontology activities, please contact

The Terminology Service is developed and maintained by TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology. As one of the infrastructure partners within NFID4Chem TIB leads the activities of Task Area 6 – Synergies.