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Heather Hedden

Foundation for a Knowledge Graph: Taxonomy Design Best Practices - Part 2

A Talk by Heather Hedden (Data and Knowledge Engineer, Semantic Web Company)

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About this Talk


Ontologies form the semantic framework for knowledge graphs, but to serve the purpose of linking data, ontologies need to be based on taxonomies or other controlled vocabularies, whose concepts are linked to data and tagged to content. There has also been a trend of greater integration of taxonomies and ontologies: ontologies are being adopted for wider business use, and taxonomies have been included in the W3C standards with widespread adoption of SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System).

While taxonomies are easier to design and create than ontologies, too often they are created without any skill or training, and poorly designed taxonomies yield poor results. This tutorial will cover the basics and best practices in taxonomy design, including: types of controlled vocabularies, standards, sources for topical concepts, wording of labels, alternative labels, hierarchical and associative relationships, and governance. This tutorial also explains the approach of semantically enriching an existing taxonomy to become an ontology by adding a semantic layer of an ontology or custom scheme.

Key Topics

  • Hierarchical and associative relationship principles
  • Taxonomy govern
  • Taxonomy and ontology connections, similarities and differences

Target Audience

  • Ontologists or knowledge engineers who are not experienced in creating taxonomies
  • Those who have a basic understanding of taxonomies or ontologies, but would like to know more
  • Managers of data, information, content, or knowledge


After the class, participants will be able to:

  • Construct taxonomy/thesaurus relationships according to standards and best practices
  • Extend a taxonomy into an ontology

Session outline:

  • Alternative labels: purpose, types, number of labels
  • Hierarchical relationships: purposes, types and best practices
  • Associative relationships: purposes and types
  • Governance: documentation and processes, such as for adding new concepts
  • Semantically enriching a taxonomy to extend it to become an ontology


Most of the class will be lecture, along with Q&A and discussion, but there will be interactive exercises which in part 2 will include suggesting broader and narrower concepts, suggesting related concepts, and semantic model design.


Beginner - Intermediate

Prerequisite Knowledge

Basic familiarity and understanding of ontologies and taxonomies, but prior experience creating them is not required.

You need an access pass to attend this session: Diversity Access Pass or Full Access Pass apply

02 December 2021, 03:15 PM

03:15 PM - 05:15 PM

About The Speakers

Heather Hedden

Heather Hedden

Data and Knowledge Engineer, Semantic Web Company

Heather Hedden is a Data and Knowledge Engineer at the Semantic Web Company, developer of PoolParty software. She trains clients in getting started in building taxonomies and ontology models. Previously she worked as an independent taxonomy consultant and as a staff taxonomist in various organizations.