Scientific Discourse on the Semantic Web: A Survey

Emerging from extremely productive interactions with members of the emerging Hyp-ER community, including most recently, Ágnes Sándor’s visiting fellowship, this survey article on modelling scientific discourse has been posted for open peer review by the Semantic Web Journal:

Scientific Discourse on the Semantic Web:
A Survey of Models and Enabling Technologies

Simon Buckingham Shum
Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK

Tim Clark
Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard University, USA

Anita de Waard
Advanced Technology Group, Elsevier & Institute of Linguistics, Utrecht University, NL

Tudor Groza & Siegfried Handschuh
Digital Enterprise Research Institute, National University of Ireland, IE

Ágnes Sándor
Parsing & Semantics Group, Xerox Research Centre Europe, FR


The desired outcome of all scientific endeavour is to advance the body of accumulated knowledge in a materially verifiable way.  This knowledge is communicated through the research literature, which presents scientific claims and their justifications through forms of discourse, expressed in document genres legitimated by a given research community. The study of the rhetorical and argumentative characteristics of such discourse has long-standing traditions, the results of which also provide insights into how scientific publishing, search and debate might take new forms on the social-semantic web. This article surveys, for a general readership, the growing body of work that models scientific discourse for social-semantic web applications, and offers a framework highlighting key features to help compare the various models. Secondly, we present examples of tools based on discourse models, which facilitate semantic navigation, structured debate, human and machine annotation of scientific texts, and literature analysis/alerting services. Finally, we identify some of the open research challenges confronting the field, and summarise the ways in which they are being tackled. [PDF]

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