ESWC Review

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GoodRelations Rejection Letter at ESWC 2008

The first attempt to publish a paper on GoodRelations at an academic conference was a disaster ;-). Basically, the reviewers complained that the ontology was not complicated enough, and that building an ontology was no scientific contribution to the Semantic Web.

You may want to have a look at the list of papers that were actually accepted ;-).

Here is the original letter.

Subject: ESWC 08 notification
Date: Fri, 29 Feb 2008 16:59:12 UT

Dear authors,

The ESWC Programme Committee has now finished the task of selecting
papers for the European Semantic Web Conference 2008.

We regret to inform you that your paper has not been accepted for
publication. Competition for ESWC this year was as fierce as ever and
selecting the programme was challenging. Each paper was reviewed by
three independent reviewers, with a Senior PC Member overseeing the
process for each paper. Papers were then also discussed at a Senior PC
meeting which was responsible for the final decision. We received over
270 submissions, of which only 51 were finally selected for

We enclose the reviews of your paper. Please note that the call for
poster submissions is open until March 14th, so you may wish to
consider submitting a poster about your work.

We thank you for submitting your paper to ESWC'08 and still hope to
see you in Tenerife in June.


Sean Bechhofer
Manolis Koubarakis
Programme Co-Chairs, ESWC'08


Paper: 139
Title: GoodRelations: An Ontology for E-Commerce on the Semantic Web

-------------------- review 1 --------------------

OVERALL RATING: 1 (weak accept)
Candidate for Best Paper?: 1 (No)

----------------------- REVIEW --------------------

Three Sentence summary of your review:

This paper develops an ontology for representing knowledge about
commercial offerings.  The work is not deep as such but it is quite
useful.  It will lead to good discussions at the conference.

Detailed Review:

This paper addresses the problem of sharing information about commerce
regarding commodity products and services.  It proposes the
GoodRelations ontology for describing such commercial offerings.

The author has made an effort to capture knowledge of this important
domain.  The contribution is apparently about how well this knowledge
is organized in this ontology.  The ontology proposed seems reasonable
enough.  The various parts of it are drawn from other works, which
lends some credibility to this work.  However, there is no evaluation
as such (the author notes that an evaluation is going on).

I expected to see a comparison with existing efforts such as the
Universal Business Language and more importantly the UNSPSC. It seems
from the author's other publications that he has studied such systems

The generic ideas of this paper dealing with ontology representation
seem to have been published already.  If not, the author should
clarify differences from previous works, especially his own.

Overall, the work is useful and possibly interesting to the conference
attendees, but not very deep.

Figure 1 is illegible without considerable magnification.  I couldn't
read it from the hardcopy of this paper.

-------------------- review 2 --------------------

OVERALL RATING: -1 (weak reject)
Candidate for Best Paper?: 1 (No)

----------------------- REVIEW --------------------

Three Sentence summary of your review: This paper presents a
description of an ontology about Web offerings in e-commerce,
which is aligned with existing ontologies used for the description
of products and services (e.g., eClassOWL).

Detailed Review: The paper describes an ontology that is the
result of a long effort (started in 2005) to describe offerings of
products and services in the Web. The author claims at the
beginning that this ontology should be a non-toy ontology (which
is the case in most of the current state of the art in this area),
which is able to describe aspects related to e-commerce such as
Web resources, offerings, legal entities, prices, and terms and
conditions. This is quite an ambitious objective, specially in the
areas of offerings and terms and conditions, given the large
amount of possibilities and legal aspects involved in this area.

While this is an effort worth taking into consideration, the
feeling after reading the paper is that there are many limitations
to both the end result and to the process followed to reach the
end result, together with a lack of valuable lessons learned that
motivate my decision about this paper:

- The areas of offerings and terms and conditions are only dealt
with quite superficially, that is, even though the author claims
that this ontology is a non-toy one, my impression is that the
complex areas are weakly-considered: only warranty is considered
in the ontology and is not too complex. How do you deal with
aspects related to different countries? And what if the warranty
is more complex than the three types that you describe? What about
forms of returning goods? These are only some of the questions
that are not covered by the ontology.

- This can be deducted as well from the list of competency
questions provided in section 2. It is not clear whether this list
is exhaustive or not, but definitely it covers only a few aspects
involved in the general area of e-commerce.

- Section 4 could be considered initially as a "lessons learned"
section, which would be of high interest to the audience of this
conference. However, the author does not provide many new lessons
learned or a good classification of why these lessons learned are
unique or at least very relevant for the e-commerce domain and not
for other domains, or how they can be extended to other domains.
Examples such as how to workaround n-ary relations in OWL, or how
to deal with ranges, or how to distinguish between two types of
products are common in the knowledge engineering literature, and
do not provide any additional insight.

- The same applies to the discussion about URIs. First, there is a
mistake when the author talks about the fact that Web resources
have a URI assigned. I think that the author is mistaking URI (the
identifier) by URL (the locator). Anybody can say anything about a
URI even if this is not under the domain of control of such
person. Besides, I think that the author should really propose a
model for naming resources in the e-commerce domain based on his
experience. This is something that has been done, for example, in
other domains such as biology (with the use of LSIDs).

- The evaluation section does not provide much about how the
evaluation has been carried out and about the exhaustiveness of
such evaluation. In theory, the ontology should be contrasted with
the competency questions that were useful to generate the ontology
requirement specification. However, the author only shows a few
SPARQL queries. This is not a real evaluation.

Finally, as a summary, the author does not provide much insight
either in how to model e-commerce relationships in general (the
model is just a small, toy-like, model) or in how to apply
ontology development methodologies in such a long and complex
process, so I hesitate about whether this paper can provide much
benefit to the conference attendees, although at the same time I
acknowledge that this model may become a good baseline for
representing e-commerce relations in the Semantic Web.

-------------------- review 3 --------------------

OVERALL RATING: 1 (weak accept)
Candidate for Best Paper?: 1 (No)

----------------------- REVIEW --------------------

Three Sentence summary of your review:

The paper presents an ontology for the semantical annotation of
web offerings. It also discusses how this ontology can be
represented in an light weighted approach.

Detailed Review:

The paper is well written, a little bit difficult to understand,
but I like that the author also argue for his decisions. The only
what I have to remark is:

- please correct the English mistakes including "be a be a" (page
6) and "evaluatiing" (page 13)

- revise your writing style in order to adopt the more objective
research paper style. Not everyone prefers to be entertained.