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Modeling Issue: A modeling issue is a question or problem that arises during the ontology engineering process. There are many kinds of issues and many ways to solve them. A modeling issue typically involves:

  • not knowing how to proceed during an ontology engineering exercise
  • identifying the specific representation requirements
  • identifying what combinations of language constructs can meet the representation requirements
  • evaluating the tradeoffs of different possible solutions.

A superb example of this is found in the document: Representing Classes As Property Values on the Semantic Web.

Two key ways that modeling issues vary are:

  • Domain Specificity: Modeling issues may be
    • highly specific to narrow domains (e.g. protein folding in molecular biology)
    • domain independent (e.g. Should instances of classes be modeled as SKOS:Concept).
    • somewhere in between, i.e. broadly applicable in one or more fairly general domains.
  • How well defined: Modeling issues may be
    • very clearly defined, with competency questions and proposed solution options with tradeoffs already analyzed
    • very rough early thoughts from the person submitting.
    • somewhere in between.


The goal is for all modeling issues to:

  • reach a stage of being very clearly defined
  • have one or more implemented solutions linked to design patterns
  • be clearly explained so others can benefit from your efforts
  • be illustrated by at least one figure.
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