Revisiting ontologies: A necessary clarification



Looking for ontology in a search engine, one can find so many different approaches that it can be difficult to understand which field of research the subject belongs to and how it can be useful. The term ontology is employed within philosophy, computer science, and information science with different meanings. To take advantage of what ontology theories have to offer, one should understand what they address and where they come from. In information science, except for a few papers, there is no initiative toward clarifying what ontology really is and the connections that it fosters among different research fields. This article provides such a clarification. We begin by revisiting the meaning of the term in its original field, philosophy, to reach its current use in other research fields. We advocate that ontology is a genuine and relevant subject of research in information science. Finally, we conclude by offering our view of the opportunities for interdisciplinary research.