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Re: scope notes and definitions

From: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 16:10:02 +0100
To: "Miles, AJ (Alistair)" <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>
Cc: "'public-esw-thes@w3.org'" <public-esw-thes@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20050127151002.GD1788@Octavius>

On Mon, Jan 24, 2005 at 03:01:16PM -0000, Alistair Miles wrote:
> (reposting this with helpful subject line)
> Mark wrote:
> > I was wondering about the difference between skos:scopeNote and
> > skos:definition (and also editorialNote/changeNote). Thesauri 
> > in the ISO
> > 2788 format only have a scope note (i.e. the scope note is the
> > definition). Their difference may become clearer if an example
> > containing both a scope note and a definition is included. 
> > Also, people
> > migrating from an ISO thesaurus need to be aware that their ScopeNotes
> > should probably be migrated to skos:definition.
> The intention is that a definition is a 'statement or formal explanation of
> the meaning of a concept' (i.e. is supposed to be a *complete* explanation
> of the meaning of the concept) whereas a scope note is a 'note that helps to
> clarify the meaning of a concept' (i.e. a statement of what the meaning of
> the concept includes or does not include, but not a complete explanation of
> the meaning of a concept).  In other words, a 'scope note' says something
> about what is 'in or out of scope' for a particular concept.  A definition
> is supposed to describe (fully) the 'scope' of a concept.
> This means that, if a concept has a definition, it should not need a scope
> note (i.e. the two properties should never co-occur).  

Okay... Just one observation from my point of view: that
the example below does not seem to bear out the notion that
the two properties should never co-occur.  "Includes Russia"
does not stand on its own as a definition unless one perhaps
assumes that the preferred label speaks for itself, filling
in the missing semantics.

Taking a less obvious example, "the Sudan" used to refer to a
broad region of central Africa -- not just the area (country)
called "Sudan" today.  In such cases, I should think that a
definition plus a scope note could be helpful in sorting out
the usage intended.

Either way, including an example seems helpful.


> An example of a scope note:
> Concept [ 
> 	preferred label: Europe 
> 	scope note: includes Russia 
> ]
> An example of a definition:
> Concept [
> 	preferred label: Europe
> 	definition: The sixth-largest continent, extending west from the
> Dardanelles, Black Sea, and Ural Mountains. It is technically a vast
> peninsula of the Eurasian land mass.
> ]
> Does this usage seem reasonable?  A better explanation of this in the guide?
> Cheers,
> Al.

Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
Institutszentrum Schloss Birlinghoven         mobile +49-160-9664-2129
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Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
Received on Thursday, 27 January 2005 15:08:01 UTC

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