ResearchSpace & the CIDOC CRM
Research is dependent upon meaning and context. When data is integrated this is often achieved using a common or 'core' model. This means that source data is represented differently and without its original context. The information systems of memory institutions contains implicit relationships that are not represented when data is exported from traditional database system. ResearchSpace relies on being able tom integrate data without losing this context or perspective on the real world. The CRM preserves this perspective and uses it to harmonise heterogeneous data keeping its variability but providing a consistent interface for access.

  • The CIDOC CRM is an ontology - a form of knowledge representation. An ontology represents the categorical knowledge within a domain, in this case the cultural heritage domain. The function of a domain ontology is to mediate the variability within a domain and provide a framework under which we can collaborate despite having different datasets – by modelling the constants used in the expert discourse rather than the hypotheses which are produced by experts and are expressed via these constants It is a language, not a statement of current scholarly convictions.
  • It is independent of any technical implementation framework. It is commonly employed using Resource Description Framework (RDF) databases, the lingua franca of linked data (see below), but could also be used with other meta-models. Different technologies create a different set of constraints. The design of a knowledge representation system should not be based, or dependent upon, a particular technology. It should represent knowledge in a more generic form. The only logical restriction is the kind of positive statements information systems can support so far.
  • It does not mandate any fields or values. Unlike other standards that work by using an agreed set of fields and/or values the CRM supports variability. The reason why there are so many field/value based standards is because different cultural groups will naturally have different requirements. The CRM provides a semantic framework that describes more general entities (including events) and the relationships between them. It provides homogeneous access, but does not homogenise data with respect to the kind of represented content. 
  • It is an empirically based ontology. Rather than being defined by a committee (top down), the CRM is based on empirical analysis of real practice and local knowledge (bottom up). The CRM develops as a result of understanding existing models of practice that have themselves developed over a considerable period of time; it represents nearly twenty years of international research. It is unlikely that a similar exercise would come up with a significantly different result. It is scientifically constituted and not influenced by the strength of opinion of a particular group or expert.  
  • It is poly-hierarchical (not a flat linear structure) providing an optimal range of generalisation/specialisation above the point of individual institutional terminological descriptions. In such a framework context and semantics are enhanced. 
  • It does not concern itself with differences in terminology between institutions, it supports the ability to “plugin” local terminologies and provides an ontological framework under which these vocabularies (conceptual terminology) can be compared and linked.
  • It provides a framework for matching instances of people, places, things, events and periods using the information and context around these entities. It does not need to rely on primitive string matching techniques.
  • It has the ability to support rich computer-based reasoning. The ontology is based on the concept of object-oriented classes with carefully designed relationships that conform to rules of logic. The CRM provides the opportunity for a computer to infer new information by putting together fragments of information (semantically harmonised) from different sources and creating the conditions in which logical propositions can be concluded.
  • The most important kinds of computer-based reasoning the CRM can support are generalisations of relationships and deductions from highly indirect relations such as what parts have in common with their wholes, what wholes inherit from their parts and what is transferred across meetings and processes of derivation. These are not meant to replace scholarly conclusions but to comprehensively detect facts relevant to answer research questions. Besides others this ensures that highly specialized knowledge stays accessible to generic questions regardless the specificity of representation.      

The CRM Family now includes a number of important extensions. These are;
FRBRoo: Bibliographic References
PRESSoo: Periodicals
CRMinf: Argumentation Model
CRMsci: Scientific Observation Model
CRMdig: Digital Provenance Model
CRMgeo: Spatiotemporal Refinement
Dominic Oldman,
2 Feb 2016, 01:08