Published using Google Docs
ADC-IARPC Semantics WG 2021-01-19

ADC-IARPC Vocabularies and Semantics Working Group


Meeting Agenda & Minutes


2021-01-19 20:00 UTC (01:00 PM MST and 21:00 CET)


Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 651 6405 6393

Find your local number: 


  1. Participants
  1. Shannon Christoffersen, Bill Manley, SiriJodha Singh Khalsa, Chantelle Verhey, Pier Luigi Buttigieg, Øystein Godøy, Ruth Duerr, Peter Pulsifer, Mark Schildhauer
  1. Adoption of the agenda
  1. Adopted
  1. Review of the minutes of the previous meeting
  1. 2020-12-15
  1. Approved
  1.  Review of open action items
  1. None identified.
  1. Polar Semantics Planning Matrix updates - Peter and Ruth
  1. The matrix is available at Matrix of metadata harvesting relationships
  2. The matrix and other materials from this family of meetings are being documented in two papers:
  1. PDPS White Paper Draft - Harvesting Portion
  1. Update on status
  1. Peter informed that this task is quite active. Will do this using the Polar Data Ecosystem approach since using Google Doc is not an appropriate tool for this.
  2. Ruth and Øystein informed Peter that following discussions in this group in 2020 some columns had been added to the harvesting matrix. These columns should be considered for the Data Ecosystem triple store as well.
  1. Pier Luigi informed that PANGAEA is adding semantic support in their system and shared an example image:

    Pier Luigi said this is a step in the correct direction, but still needs a few rounds of polishing to be fully accurate
  2. An example dataset is available at
  1. PDPS White Paper Draft - Recommendations Portion
  1. Update on status
  1. Ruth has started to update this. Still pending.
  1. EOSC Semantic Framework project - Øystein
  1. Øystein gave some background (relevant documents are linked below) and emphasised the importance of semantics being recognised as a helpful tool by the scientific community. In particular this relates to the development of controlled vocabularies and ease of use in daily work when documenting and searching for data. The SEMAF project seems to address these issues, but this groups perspectives on activities like this would be useful.
  2. According to Pier Luigi this activity overlaps with many of the CODATA/FAIRsFAIR/RDA communities.
  1. CODATA has some relevant working groups, Pier Luigi referred to his first contact point which was Event Homepage.
  2. He also mentioned similar activities through UNESCO IOC.
  3. In order to address the disconnection between system development and scientists, Pier Luigi suggested writing a letter to EOSC to raise the awareness of the existence of this WG and offer support to increase user impact. This was supported by Shannon and Peter.
  4. Following some discussion, Pier Luigi suggested writing an open letter that can be sent to a number of organisations/large programmes for this purpose. this letter should make a statement on what is working and what is not.
  5. Mark suggested that we should have many signatures from the WG to show the organisations/activities being represented in the WG (e.g. DataOne, ADC, GCW, ...).
  6. It was decided to create a task team to draft a letter which is reviewed in the next meeting.
  1. Action: Shannon, Pier Luigi, Mark and Øystein to draft a letter that will be reviewed in the next meeting.
  1. Background from Peter Wittenburg

  1. The EOSC process decided to support the work on alternative approaches to bring semantic processing to the researchers desk. A framework enabling pragmatic and flexible Semantic Mapping could be an important addition to the set of tools which are already available. Therefore, the small SEMAF project which is under the leadership of Daan Broeder (CLARIN) was started. A small group of experts wrote two starting papers (see Background documents below) to describe the idea. The goal of this small project is to specify such framework and to indicate feasibility
    Now, we would like to do interviews with experts in various domains who have a good insight in the current practices of (1) how semantic mapping at data and metadata level is being done and (2) whether a SEMAF framework would help practitioners in data-intensive science.
  2. Background documents.
  1. Following discussions on the 2020-08-18 meeting, discuss definitions of data and datasets that could be used in the Arctic Community - Rebekah/Pier Luigi
  1. The purpose is to achieve definitions that are useful in communication with data providers (e.g. scientists and agencies), including indigenous communities
  2. Pier Luigi gave a brief update on the discussions in Slack and previous meetings. There is still some disagreement in the group on how to apply and define the concepts of data, dataset, information and knowledge. Pier Luigi referred to various domains in this context and for the UN Ocean Decade this specifically refers to information in the digital domain. This discussion will continue in subsequent meetings as it is necessary to have foundation for the work. This does not necessarily imply that there will be only one definition for various concepts as there are specific challenges between indigenous and scientific perspectives. It was agreed that the purpose of this group's discussion on the issue is to identify possibilities and put them forward to a larger community for discussion. The group as such covers a wide range of communities, but extension of this is always welcome. Peter shared a paper (Reid, G., & Sieber, R. (2020). Do geospatial ontologies perpetuate Indigenous assimilation?. Progress in Human Geography, 44(2), 216-234.) which addresses semantics as a colonisation tool which could be useful for future discussions.
  3. Background material
  1. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Implementation Plan v2.0. (See glossary for definitions of data, information, knowledge, and digital knowledge ; note we had to tone down the technical aspects as this document goes to the GA) : 
  3. A dedicated channel in the Slack space has been set up to capture discussions between meetings.
  1. Discussion of the concepts data, information and knowledge and whether existing definitions we are working with applies in a broad sense, including local and traditional/indigenous knowledge. - Rebekah
  1. Discussion of issues raised in the 2020-12-15 meeting.
  2. Concepts being discussed now are:
  1. Data
  1. A set of values, symbols, or signs (recorded on any type of medium) that represent one or more properties of an entity. For example, the numbers generated by a sensor, values derived from a model or analysis, text entered into a survey, or the raw text of a document
  1. Information
  1. Products derived from data that lead to a greater understanding of an entity. For example, (i) the interpretation of a range of data from an array of conductivity sensors across the Arctic Ocean that informs us about that ocean’s salinity range or (ii) the narrative text of a report on harmful algal blooms that informs the reader on the timing of these blooms.
  1. Knowledge
  1. An abstract representation (i.e. a mental model) of an entity which: (i) is constructed from a substantial collection of information, (ii) grants its bearer reliable familiarity with that entity, and (iii) can be used to reason and take action about that entity. For example, an expert with knowledge about the salinity range of the Arctic Ocean (constructed from large amounts of information on the topic) would be able to reason that a salinity value of 43% is a likely error, rather than a real measurement.
  1. It was in the previous meeting agreed that a living process that can be adapted as we continue engagement is required. How do we address this?
  2. It was in the previous meeting suggested that a joint statement towards e.g. Arctic Council outlining activities, goals, objectives, requests etc. is developed together with other relevant groups. How do we address this?
  1. Awareness updates (roundtable)
  1. Peter informed that CCADI is setting up a semantics framework and he would like to see this group as a discussion platform for such efforts in the community as they emerge and develop.
  2. Ruth informed that Thursday, January 21,1-4 PM MDT, the next Polar to Global Interoperability Workshop will be arranged.
  3. Øystein informed about WMO is still working on the new WMO Data Policy and that now is addressing the relation with academic communities through a dedicated annex. This is a high level document, but has implementation effects through its supporting frameworks of WMO Information System (WIS) and WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) which are moving towards a more semantic approach.
  1. On hold, to be addressed if time
  1. A paper/report on the Polar Vocabularies Questionnaire - Pier Luigi
  1. Pier Luigi is exploring this with support from Ruth, Mark and Øystein.
  1. Link to responses: Polar Vocabularies (Responses)
  2. See previous minutes for details.
  3. Update on status
  1. Regular interoperability workshops debriefs and plans - Rebekah/Øystein
  1. Lessons learned in the September 2nd workshop that should be further discussed
  2. Polar practices recommendations for implementing is the short term goal
  1. Next meeting
  1. Agreed to do the third Tuesday of the month, at 20:00 UTC (21:00 CET, 15:00 EST, 13:00 MST).
  1. Next meeting will be Tuesday 16th February.
  2. Øystein will create a calendar invite.
  1. Since not everyone is using Slack, emails should be circulated for each meeting.