Computational ontologies are machine-processable structures which represent particular domains of interest. They integrate knowledge which can be used by humans or machines for decision making and problem solving. The main aim of this systematic review is to investigate the role of formal ontologies in information systems development, i.e., how these graphs-based structures can be beneficial during the analysis and design of the information systems. Specific online databases were used to identify studies focused on the interconnections between ontologies and systems engineering. One-hundred eighty-seven studies were found during the first phase of the investigation. Twenty-seven studies were examined after the elimination of duplicate and irrelevant documents. Mind mapping was substantially helpful in organising the basic ideas and in identifying five thematic groups that show the main roles of formal ontologies in information systems development. Formal ontologies are mainly used in the interoperability of information systems, human resource management, domain knowledge representation, the involvement of semantics in unified modelling language (UML)-based modelling, and the management of programming code and documentation. We explain the main ideas in the reviewed studies and suggest possible extensions to this research.
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