A common vocabulary to classify resources in the life science domain

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A common vocabulary to classify resources in the life science domain
16 Oct 2014

A common vocabulary to classify resources in the life science domain



A one day workshop organised by ELIXIR, BioMedBridges and RDA to kick-start agreement on a common topics vocabulary to classify resources in the life sciences domain, including databases, tools, courses, training materials, meetings, jobs and publications.


Service providers and registries use different vocabularies to classify resources. From the user point of view, a common topics vocabulary would enhance the ability to find related resources of interest. From the provider point of view, a common vocabulary would be an important step to facilitate the interoperability of existing resources.


We welcome representatives of societies, networks, institutes, organisations, research infrastructures and projects interested in using a common vocabulary to classify resources in the life science domain. We will involve and welcome domain specialists and ontologists to assist the discussion.

When and where

Thursday, 16 October 2014: one day before the collocated RDA Europe Workshop about Data Sharing and Interoperability.

Strasbourg + Luxembourg rooms, Science 14 Atrium, Rue de la Science, 14b, Brussels


Please confirm your attendance no later than Friday 19 September here:


Travel costs: Participants may apply for help with their accommodation costs from ELIXIR; please indicate this on the registration form (BioMedBridges partners can use existing travel funds to attend this event).

Hotel: For those who are receiving support from ELIXIR to cover accommodation for the night of 16th October, accommodation will be arranged at: IBIS Brussels Centre Ste Catherine (Joseph Plateaustraat 2, 1000 Brussels).


During the workshop we will:

  • Agree high-level terms for general topics: the foundation of a common vocabulary in biological and biomedical science and bioinformatics
  • Discuss use cases and how this vocabulary will make an impact in our community
  • Discuss a publication on the common vocabulary with potential authors

Further, we will seek to assemble a coalition of resources, to seek funding to adopt and develop this vocabulary in support of resource integration and discovery, with concrete commitments to:

  • Promote the use of this vocabulary within your infrastructure, institute, project etc., and beyond,

and, subject to resource constraints:

  • Adopt the vocabulary within your own resources, e.g. for purposes of annotation, search / browsing and sharing data
  • Develop the vocabulary going forward, building on the foundation agreed during the workshop.


Arrival and registration

10:30 - 11:00 | Coffee and biscuits


Chair: Francis Rowland

11:00 - 11:05 | Welcome (Niklas Blomberg)

11:05 - 11:15 | Aims of the workshop (Rafael Jimenez)

11:15 - 11:30 | Introductions

11:30 - 13:00 | 5’ Lightning talks (BioSharing et al. - tbd)


13:00 - 13:30 | Lunch

Ontology discussion

Chair: Simon Jupp

13:30 - 14:00 | Presentation

“Mapping of topics from providers and registries” (Cath Brooksbank)

14:00 - 16:30 | Group hands-on (over coffee)

  1. Root vocabulary: high-level topics
  2. Topic branches: fine-grained topics


16:30 - 16:45 | Coffee

Agreement on a common topics vocabulary

Chair: Stephanie Suhr

16:45 - 17:30 | Discussion

Agreement on a common topics vocabulary (Jon Ison)

  1. Commitments to promote, adopt, develop the vocabulary
  2. Practical issues around adoption and maintenance

Future development and funding

Chair: Carole Goble

17:30 - 17:50 | Presentation

“Contextualising resources in the life sciences domain using minimal metadata” (Susanna-Assunta Sansone)

17:50 - 18:00 | Introduction to the Panel Discussion

“Exploring funding strategies to adopt and develop the common topics vocabulary in support of integration and discovery of resources” (Niklas Blomberg)

18:00 - 19:00 | Panel Discussion

Vocabulary and metadata use-cases and impact
Assembling a coalition of resources : confirming commitments including publication and funding proposal


20:30 - Joint dinner with the RDA & ESFRI Projects Workshop

Please indicate attendance (at your own expense) on the registration form


  • Janet Thornton (EMBL-EBI, BioMedBridges)
  • Niklas Blomberg (ELIXIR)
  • Søren Brunak (ELIXIR-DK, BioMedBridges, ELIXIR/BioMedBridges Services Registry, CBS-DTU tools)
  • Carole Goble (ELIXIR-UK, ISBE, TeSS, Fairport, myExperiment, SSI, BioCatalogue, SEEK4Science, FAIRDOM)
  • Rob Hooft (ELIXIR-NL, NLeSC, DTL, Fairport)
  • Inge Jonassen (ELIXIR-NO, University of Bergen)
  • Heinz Stockinger (ELIXIR-CH, SIB, ExPASy)
  • Terri Attwood (ELIXIR-UK, BioDBCore, EMBnet, GOBLET, iAnn, ISCB, ISB, AllBio, SeqAhead, TeSS)
  • Cath Brooksbank(ELIXIR-UK, EMBL-EBI, EMTRAIN, GOBLET, on-course, TeSS)
  • Manuel Corpas (ELIXIR-UK, BioJS, GOBLET, iAnn, ISCB, TeSS)
  • Vassilios Ioannidis (ELIXIR-CH, SIB, ExPASy)
  • Hervé Ménager (Institut Pasteur, BioWeb2, Mobyle)
  • Helen Parkinson (EMBL-EBI, BioMedBridges, ELIXIR/BioMedBridges Services Registry)
  • Francis Rowland (EMBL-EBI, BioJS)
  • Susanna-Assunta Sansone(ELIXIR-UK, BioDBCore, BioSharing, ISA Commons, TeSS; RDA TAB)
  • Vicky Schneider(ELIXIR-UK, EMBnet, GOBLET, iAnn, TeSS)

Technical organisers

  • Jon Ison(ELIXIR-DK, ELIXIR/BioMedBridges Services Registry, EDAM, Tools@EBI)
  • Rafael Jimenez (ELIXIR Hub)
  • Stephanie Suhr (EMBL-EBI, BioMedBridges)