SWAN is an OWL-specified ontology of discourse originally developed in support of multidisciplinary biological research with an initial focus in neuroscience. What makes it unique is that it was developed in an active collaboration with working researchers. The distinctions and relationships it makes in discourse are deliberately and strongly aligned with what these researchers find useful. SWAN is modular. It contains a several components that can be used independently by projects in various scientific fields, as they are found useful. These include such elements as Discourse Relationships (agreement or disagreement of assertions), Provenance, Authoring and Versioning, Scientific Citations, FOAF-in-OWL, Agents, Collections, Connectors (to other ontologies) and Qualifiers (in SKOS).
SWAN has been used to develop a knowledgebase of hypotheses, claims and evidence in Alzheimer Disease; and to annotate content in an online Journal of Stem Cell research. It has now also been integrated with the SIOC ontology of blogs, wikis and discussion groups, through a collaboration with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute, and work is proceeding to integrate SWAN with the myExperiment ontology of computational workflows.
This talk will discuss the theory, features, and development of SWAN, to open a discussion on potential uses outside biology, for example in Astronomy.