Using Existing Ontologies

Just as with other types of controlled vocabularies, there are many opportunities for communities to use the same ontologies. This can save time and resources and provide a common way to share data among different members of a community.

There are several toolsets that can facilitate your work with ontologies. First, a major hurdle to the adoption of this technology is a simple method by which to discover commonly used ontologies. Search engines and community-run registries and repositories—several of which are listed in the next section—can help.

However, even under the best of circumstances, a pre-existing ontology may need to be adapted for use in particular cases. Fortunately, RDF and OWL provide good mechanisms for extending individual ontologies, allowing them to be modified while still retaining their original meanings and relationships.

This section of the guide covers methods for finding ontologies, citing their terms and resources, and extending existing ontologies to work for your needs.

Suggested Citation

Alexander, P. 2011. "Using Existing Ontologies." In The MMI Guides: Navigating the World of Marine Metadata. http://marinemetadata.org/guides/vocabs/ont/existing. Accessed December 14, 2019.