Next Article in Journal
An Integrated Participatory Systems Modelling Approach: Application to Construction Innovation
Next Article in Special Issue
Conceptualizing Shadow IT Integration Drawbacks from a Systemic Viewpoint
Previous Article in Journal
A System Dynamics Model of the Adoption of Improved Agricultural Inputs in Uganda, with Insights for Systems Approaches to Development
Previous Article in Special Issue
Systems Thinking Education—Seeing the Forest through the Trees
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Systems 2018, 6(3), 32;

Systemic Semantics: A Systems Approach to Building Ontologies and Concept Maps

Centre for Systems Philosophy, Surrey KTI5 1EL, UK
International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), 10 Batter Lane, Rawdon, Leeds LS19 6EU, UK
Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, Kingston-on-Hull HU6 7RX, UK
Alister Hardy Research Centre, University of Wales TSD, Lampeter SA48 7ED, UK
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Centre for Systems Philosophy, Surrey KTI5 1EL, UK
Salesforce, Inc., San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, 204 Rogers Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), 7670 Opportunity Rd, Suite 220, San Diego, CA 92111-2222, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 24 July 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Thinking)
Full-Text   |   PDF [8426 KB, uploaded 11 August 2018]   |  


The field of systemology does not yet have a standardised terminology; there are multiple glossaries and diverse perspectives even about the meanings of fundamental terms. This situation undermines researchers’ and practitioners’ ability to communicate clearly both within and outside their own specialist communities. Our perspective is that different vocabularies can in principle be reconciled by seeking more generalised definitions that reduce, in specialised contexts, to the nuanced meaning intended in those contexts. To this end, this paper lays the groundwork for a community effort to develop an ‘Ontology of Systemology’. In particular we argue that the standard methods for ontology development can be enhanced by drawing on systems thinking principles, and show via four examples how these can be applied for both domain-specific and upper ontologies. We then use this insight to derive a systemic and systematic framework for selecting and organising the terminology of systemology. The outcome of this paper is therefore twofold: We show the value in applying a systems perspective to ontology development in any discipline, and we provide a starting outline for an Ontology of Systemology. We suggest that both outcomes could help to make systems concepts more accessible to other lines of inquiry. View Full-Text
Keywords: concept map; termbase; systems perspective; ontology of systems; worldview; frontier research concept map; termbase; systems perspective; ontology of systems; worldview; frontier research

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Rousseau, D.; Billingham, J.; Calvo-Amodio, J. Systemic Semantics: A Systems Approach to Building Ontologies and Concept Maps. Systems 2018, 6, 32.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Systems EISSN 2079-8954 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top