A terminological and ontological analysis of the NCI thesaurus

We performed a qualitative analysis of the Thesaurus in order to assess its conformity with principles of good practice in terminology and ontology design. We used both the on-line browsable version of the Thesaurus and its OWL-representation (version 04.08b, released on August 2, 2004), measuring each in light of the requirements put forward in relevant ISO terminology standards and in light of ontological principles advanced in the recent literature. Version 04.08b of the NCI Thesaurus suffers from the same broad range of problems that have been observed in other biomedical terminologies. For its further development, we recommend the use of a more principled approach that allows the Thesaurus to be tested not just for internal consistency but also for its degree of correspondence to that part of reality which it is designed to represent.
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