January 27, 2011 – With the rise of computers and high-throughput data collection, ontologies have become essential to data mining and sharing across communities in the biomedical sciences. Powerful approaches exist for testing the internal consistency of an ontology, but not for assessing the fidelity of its domain representation. Not until now, that is.

We found this topic in Molecular Med Monthly’s exhaustive article, “Benchmarking Ontologies: Bigger or Better?” Starting at the root of ontology (pun totally intended), the author specifically addresses the association and use of ontologies with biomedicine. Scientists use them to encode the results of complex experiments and observations and to perform integrative analysis to discover new knowledge. He goes on to point out that the remaining challenge in ontology development is how to evaluate an ontology’s representation of knowledge within its scientific domain. He also demonstrates that both medical ontologies and English thesauri have a small overlap in concepts and relations. 

This is an intense read delving into the theory and analysis of ontologies, relationships of synonyms, and the metrics involved in evaluating ontologies. However, it is an informative read worth the time.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.