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BMC Bioinformatics

, 12:325

Networks analysis


BackgroundMaintaining a bio-ontology in the long term requires improving and updating its contents so that it adequately captures what is known about biological phenomena. This paper illustrates how these processes are carried out, by studying the ways in which curators at the Gene Ontology have hitherto incorporated new knowledge into their resource.

ResultsFive types of circumstances are singled out as warranting changes in the ontology: 1 the emergence of anomalies within GO; 2 the extension of the scope of GO; 3 divergence in how terminology is used across user communities; 4 new discoveries that change the meaning of the terms used and their relations to each other; and 5 the extension of the range of relations used to link entities or processes described by GO terms.

ConclusionThis study illustrates the difficulties involved in applying general standards to the development of a specific ontology. Ontology curation aims to produce a faithful representation of knowledge domains as they keep developing, which requires the translation of general guidelines into specific representations of reality and an understanding of how scientific knowledge is produced and constantly updated. In this context, it is important that trained curators with technical expertise in the scientific fields in question are involved in supervising ontology shifts and identifying inaccuracies.

KeywordsGene Ontology knowledge maintenance curation ontology shifts Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2105-12-325 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Sabina Leonelli - Alexander D Diehl - Karen R Christie - Midori A Harris - Jane Lomax


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