Enhancing interoperable datasets with virtual links

To achieve semantic interoperability, numerous data standards, ontologies, and controlled vocabularies have been developed and adopted by the industry and scientific communities. Yet, semantic heterogeneity remains a problem when interoperating data from sources of different scopes and knowledge domains. Causes for this challenge are context-specific requirements (i.e. no "one model fits all"), different modelling decisions, domain purpose, and technical constraints. Moreover, even if the problem of semantic heterogeneity among different RDF publishers and knowledge domains is mitigated or solved, querying and accessing the data of multiple distributed RDF datasets on the web is not straightforward. This is because of the complex and fastidious process needed to understand how the data are structured and how these datasets can be related or linked, and consequently, queried. To address these issues, we propose to extend the existing Vocabulary of Interlinked Datasets (VoID). We introduce the concept of virtual links. A virtual link is a connection between resources such as literals and IRIs (Internationalized Resource Identifier) with some commonality where each of these resources is from a different RDF dataset. Semantic relaxation is also considered when defining commonality between resources. The links are required in order to understand how to semantically relate the datasets. In addition, we argue several benefits of using virtual links to improve semantic interoperability between unlike datasets. Finally, we applied them to multiple worldwide used RDF datasets in life sciences.


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