An introduction to the Semantic Web for health sciences librarians

Ioana Robu*, Valentin Robu, Benoit Thirion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The paper (1) introduces health sciences librarians to the main concepts and principles of the Semantic Web (SW) and (2) briefly reviews a number of projects on the handling of biomedical information that uses SW technology. Methodology: The paper is structured into two main parts. "Semantic Web Technology" provides a high-level description, with examples, of the main standards and concepts: extensible markup language (XML), Resource Description Framework (RDF), RDF Schema (RDFS), ontologies, and their utility in information retrieval, concluding with mention of more advanced SW languages and their characteristics. "Semantic Web Applications and Research Projects in the Biomedical Field" is a brief review of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), Generalised Architecture for Languages, Encyclopedias and Nomenclatures in Medicine (GALEN), HealthCyberMap, LinkBase, and the thesaurus of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The paper also mentions other benefits and by-products of the SW, citing projects related to them. Discussion and Conclusions: Some of the problems facing the SW vision are presented, especially the ways in which the librarians' expertise in organizing knowledge and in structuring information may contribute to SW projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Medical Library Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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