Towards a multilingual, comprehensive and open scientific journal ontology

December 2011

Archambault, É., Beauchesne, O., and Caruso, J. (2011)

Towards a multilingual, comprehensive and open scientific journal ontology, in B. Noyons, P. Ngulube, & J. Leta (Eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI) (pp. 66–77). Durban, South Africa.


This paper describes the development of a new journal ontology to facilitate the production of bibliometric data. A number of approaches have been used to design journal-level taxonomies or ontologies, and the scholarly research and practical application of these systems have revealed their various benefits and limitations. To date, however, no single classification scheme has been widely adopted by the international bibliometric community. In light of these factors, the new classification presented here—featuring a hierarchical, three-level classification tree—was developed based on best-practice taxonomies. Categories were modelled on those of existing journal classifications (ISI, CHI, ERA), and their groupings of journals acted as “seeds” or attractors for journals in the new classification. Individual journals were assigned to single, mutually exclusive categories via a hybrid approach combining algorithmic methods and expert judgment. Notably, the classification was designed to be as inclusive as possible of newer fields of inquiry; general and multidisciplinary journals; and the range of arts and humanities disciplines. The new scientific journal ontology is freely available (it can be found at under a creative commons license and is operational in 18 languages.

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