GloSIS: The Global Soil Information System Web Ontology

Tracking #: 3589-4803

This paper is currently under review
Raúl Palma
Bogusz Janiak
Luís M. de Sousa
Kathi Schleidt
Tomáš Rezník
Fenny van Egmond
Johan Leenaars
Dimitrios Moshou
Abdul Mouazen
Peter Wilson
David Medyckyj-Scott
Alistair Ritchie
Yusuf Yigini
Ronald Vargas

Responsible editor: 
Boyan Brodaric

Submission type: 
Full Paper
Established in 2012 by members of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) is a global network of stakeholders promoting sound land and soil management practices towards a sustainable world food system. However, soil survey largely remains a local or regional activity, bound to heterogeneous methods and conventions. Recognising the relevance of global and trans-national policies towards sustainable land management practices, the GSP elected data harmonisation and exchange as one of its key lines of action. Building upon international standards and previous work towards a global soil data ontology, an improved domain model was eventually developed within the GSP [54], the basis for a Global Soil Information System (GloSIS). This work also identified the Semantic Web as a possible avenue to operationalise the domain model. This article presents the GloSIS web ontology, an implementation of the GloSIS domain model with the Web Ontology Language (OWL). Thoroughly employing a host of SemanticWeb standards (SOSA, SKOS, GeoSPARQL, QUDT), GloSIS lays out not only a soil data ontology but also an extensive set of ready-to-use code-lists for soil description and physio-chemical analysis. Various examples are provided on the provision and use of GloSIS-compliant linked data, showcasing the contribution of this ontology to the discovery, exploration, integration and access of soil data.
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Review #1
Anonymous submitted on 22/Jan/2024
Minor Revision
Review Comment:

This paper explains a transformation process from existing soil domain model available as pdf documents or UML schema (or...) into an OWL ontology related to soil analyses. The final ontology is named Glosis.
The main concern of the paper is to present how to translate an UML model into an OWL ontology using shape change tool. The ontology is based on the SOSA/SSN pattern to model measurements. The paper shows how to reuse code list using the pattern “Formal / Semi-Formal Hybrids -- Part OWL, Part SKOS” presented in”
the state of the art about soil standard is huge. The ontology is build based on international soil standard.
The Glosis ontology could become standard domain model that could be used to store any soil databases. The paper presents 3 databases (LUCAS, SRDB, Wosis) that are stored using the GLOSIS ontology into the Foodie sparql end point. 4 SPARQL queries related to soil description are proposed and documented in a wiki. Note that the last query launch an error “Virtuoso 42000 Error SQ070:SECURITY: Must have select privileges on view DB.DBA.SPARQL_SINV_2”
The authors take into account most parts of my changes.
My main problem concerning this paper is the quality of documentation ontology and annotation properties.
The documentation web page of glosis main module is empty, there is no classes nor property.
The natural language definitions are not provided and still only contained the indication of the source instead of the definition. For example in the Layer Horizon module which contain 212 classes. There are 193 definitions with the content “ISRIC Report 2019/01: Tier 1 and Tier 2 data in the context of the federated Global Soil Information System,…” . 96 definitions with the content “Guidelines for Soil Description issued by the FAO:…”
The authors propose “the addition of further human readable literals, (e.g. with rdfs:comment predicates) can certainly occur in later releases of the web ontology.”
To my point of view an ontology is not only a set of classes that could be used by software, but also a conceptualisation of a domain that should be understandable by human.
Due to the fact that the authors does not want to store the definitions from the source into annotation property, I let the editor decide if they want to accept this publication.
Note that I am one of the potential reuser of this soil ontology and as far as the classes are not defined correctly I will not be able to align it with our national standard. I will have to make some hypothesis.
Note that the internation standard iso contains some errors in the definition that could not be modified by the authors, thus the quality of the final documentation is an important topics.
I also ask the authors to propose that they have extends the pattern “Formal / Semi-Formal Hybrids -- Part OWL, Part SKOS” by adding new components instead of just reused it. They still prefer to say that they have just reused it.

Review #2
By Steve Richard submitted on 26/Jan/2024
Review Comment:

Most of the issues from the previous review have been addressed. The text is virtually identical to the previous submission (3526), except for changes noted in response document #101, reordering of the discussion of previous models, updates to fig 3 and 4, and expanded content in 3.4.2.
The UML model link is better, and the html pages for the model from WIDOCO/github seem to be working as expected.

I still can't find reference #54.

p 15 line 20-- still have a 'Doublin Core' (the other 2 got fixed), footnote 15 link gets a 404.
p.2 line 26 left side-- still no verb in this sentence...
p.2 line 46, right side "..for the development of an authoritative global soil information. This system is envisioned.." would read alot more clearly as "...for the development of an authoritative global soil information system envisioned..."
p. 6 line 3 -- scenario should be plural