On the Ontological Quality and Logical Quality of Conceptual-Modeling Grammars: The Need for a Dual Perspective

Roger Clarke, Andrew Burton-Jones, Ron Weber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)
    445 Downloads (Pure)


    A core activity in information systems development involves building a conceptual model of the domain that an information system is intended to support. Such models are created using a conceptual-modeling (CM) grammar. Just as high-quality conceptual models facilitate high-quality systems development, high-quality CM grammars facilitate high-quality conceptual modeling. This paper provides a new perspective on ways to improve the quality of the semantics of CM grammars. For many years, the leading approach to this topic has relied on ontological theory. We show, however, that the ontological approach captures only half the story. It needs to be coupled with a logical approach. We explain how the ontological quality and logical quality of CM grammars interrelate. Furthermore, we outline three contributions that a logical approach can make to evaluating the quality of CM grammars: a means of seeing some familiar conceptual-modeling problems in simpler ways; the illumination of new problems; and the ability to prove the benefit of modifying existing CM grammars in particular ways. We demonstrate these benefits in the context of the Entity-Relationship grammar. More generally, our paper opens up a new area of research with many opportunities for future research and practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)365-382
    Number of pages18
    JournalInformation Systems Research
    Issue number2
    Early online date19 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2016


    • Conceptual modeling
    • Semantics
    • Ontology
    • Logic

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Management Information Systems


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