Issue 587: Principles for Modelling Ontologies: A Short Reference Guide [introduction and examples for didactic purposes]

Starting Date: 
Working Group: 

In the 52nd joint meeting of the CIDOC CRM SIG and ISO/TC46/SC4/WG9; 45th FRBR - CIDOC CRM Harmonization meeting; upon discussing Issue 351, the SIG resolved to start a new issue where to discuss how to enhance the processes defined in the document by adding real use-case examples of bottom-up modelling, grounded on empirical evidence and data re-expressed into modelling constructs. Another topic that will have to be addressed is how to publish this text, make it more visible (not just on the CIDOC-CRM website)

HW: TV, GH, MD, FB to work on this issue for the next SIG.


The document can be found here (under Resources/Techincal Papers)


February 2022 

In the 53rd CIDOC CRM & 46th FRBRoo SIG meeting, the Sig discussed the proposal for a reference guide concerning Modelling ontologies (HW by MD & DO) –a guideline into the steps one must follow to propose a modelling construct, namely: (1) a “how to model” question, (2) the development of a modelling construct that extends or modifies CRM (base and family models), (3) introducing a new construct into the CRM.

Additionally, there is a proposal on how to ground the need for a completely new extension and what the steps towards its definition should be.


  • The point of this issue was to provide examples that showcase how the principles should be used when one is creating a modelling construct. There are none throughout the document. The example would be like “How to model Observable Situations?”.
    • This proposal is part of answering the issue, but also proposes what the overall process should be.
      • HW –FORTH: Provide examples from the SeaLit project.
      • The “How to model such and such?” is mainly what the Sig list is all about. It is more important to define what the characteristics of useful examples of individuals (vs. categorical ones).
    • Change the content of the cell Example: “how to model the modification of an art object by an artful contribution, possibly by a different artist?” into Example: “how to model the modification of the engraving plate x by engraver y, possibly by a different engraver z?”
  • In relation to Issue 538 that raises the question how to document changes implemented in the model: keeping track of the questions a proposed model answers should be the general practice.  
  • Pg.1: the document needs a general introduction for the two parts of the document, namely:
    • New Modelling Construct Proposal Checklist and Procedure
    • New Extension Proposal Checklist and Procedure
  • re. modelling extensions to the CRM: trying to avoid overlap btw two models does not amount to keeping their scopes disjoint but trying to avoid a situation in which it is open to debate what model a given class or property should appear under.
  • re. different kinds of research questions –not all questions raised in the course of a modelling project are helpful or relevant to guide the modelling process. Some are at a macro-level, some others at a micro-level. The micro-level questions is easier to address.
    • if the research questions that guided modelling decisions in SeaLit can be shared (no restrictions), then they should be published on the CRM website.
    • theory on micro-macro level questions: i.e., which ones are more crucial to create a conceptual model? In practice, the micro-level questions were more useful to derive modelling constructs (micro-structures taken together can completely answer a macro-level question)
      • e.g.: “What are the living standards of sailors?” translates into variables (a) salary and overall income, (b) sailors having shares in the ship or not, etc.
      • needs to be further expanded.


  • accept the document in principle (in the sense that it addresses important issues and it needs to be further developed).
  • HW to AK & PF to offer a selection of the research questions used for the SeaLit Project that are to be shared through the website.
  • HW to AF & FM to provide examples and research questions for CRMtex
  • HW: DO to write the overall introduction; SdS to proofread it; EC to review it from a newcomer’s perspective.
  • HW: TV to reference the document with the Principles for Modelling Ontologies
  • WS: to test the workflow (follow it in producing an ontology that he's working on and send feedback).
  • Start a new issue re. where to publish research questions on the website

The document has implications for issue 538 as well. Extract from the guideline the processes that need to be documented, and inform 538 with them.


May 2022