A common problem when trying to find information is being able to use the right terminology. Agreed and open standards covering the chemical sciences have been lacking for some time, and hinder efforts to find and compare chemical text and data. The RSC has used selections from the Open Biomedical Ontologies (the Gene, Sequence and Cell Ontologies, and also ChEBI) and has also contributed to these as an active user to help increase their accuracy and relevance.
In addition we have started to build our own subject classifications covering selected areas of chemistry - to allow us to classify our own content better and offer new means to search - which we will make open and act as curator. Again, we hope that by making these available for anyone to use we can make it possible to link together related science across not just our own publications but other publishers' content and other sources available online. The advantages that ontology terms offer over simple keywords include the reduction of ambiguity caused by synonyms, and the ability to use relationships described between the ontology terms to widen or narrow down collections in very specific ways.
The first three ontologies that we're making available are:
- RXNO - name reaction ontology
- CMO - chemical methods ontology
- MOP - molecular processes ontology
These are freely available to download in OBO and OWL format
The name reaction ontology connects organic name reactions to their roles in an organic synthesis
The Chemical Methods Ontology describes the methods, instruments and some material artefacts used in chemical experiments.
The molecular processes ontology describes chemical processes that take place at the molecular level, such as methylations and electron transfer
Email the development team if you have any queries, comments or suggested additions and amendments to these ontologies
Email the development team