An overview of SWORD

The Software Ontology for Resource Description (SWORD) is a JISC funded project that seeks to develop a vocabulary that will help describe software used by the curation and data preservation community. The description of software is crucial in areas of digital preservation, service integration, text mining, service discovery for users and in describing the provenance of curated data in areas such as bioinformatics, other life sciences, the physical and social sciences and many more. Those working within these communities see the increased need to produce standardised descriptions for preservation of these data.

Ontologies play an important role as a method of formally describing characteristics of digital artefacts. Ontologies allow reusable, modular and explicit descriptions to be engineered, and are used to embody a community consensus. For example, within the bioinformatics community, ontologies are playing a major role in standardizing data descriptions and in the curation of biomedical data. Such descriptions enable great exploitation of the vast data resources available.

Software plays a major role in producing, managing and analyzing data across sciences, humanities and beyond. By capturing aspects of software provenance, availability (such as online location), algorithms, versions and other characteristics of data, we can better understand the data, ask more detailed questions and obtain more accurate answers. The Software Ontology aims to tackles some of these issues.

A secondary outcome of the SWORD project is to better understand how the curation community are using software descriptions within their preservation work. Documenting this information will hopefully provide useful insights and best practice ideas for curation and preservation across the wider community.

If you would like engage with this project please visit the project website http://theswo.sourceforge.net

We also have a short user survey that we are using to collect requirements from the community. If you would like to participate in this please see
http://theswo.sourceforge.net/usersurvey.html

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