Michael and I did a bit of domain modelling this afternoon – below is our first attempt at a science domain model. It’s almost certainly wrong but I quite like it and I would love to hear what you think, especially if you are a scientist!
To give a bit of context – the idea behind the ontology is to provide a relatively high level model to describe the scientific method so that organisations, such as the BBC, could structure their content (archive footage, news stories etc.) using the model.
Hopefully most of the terms used are self explanatory, but for those that might not be:
Hypothesis – to quote from Princeton University – an hypothesis is a “a tentative insight into the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena”. A non-scientist might call this a theory.
Theory – again to quote from Princeton University a theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena.” A non-scientist might think of this as a ‘fact’.
Agent – adopting the FOAF:agent this is a person or organisation.
Observation – an observed phenomena in the natural world cf “data” an observation resulting from an experiment.
As others have already pointed out we’re missing a lot of detail around the role of the agent, we’re missing important predicates, such as other forms of influence other than publication. And looking at it again we’ve failed to include anything about the predictions a theory might make of the natural world. But what else are we missing?