Submitted by mchibucos on
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ICBO 2016 Workshop #W10


An introduction to the Evidence and Conclusion Ontology and representing evidence in scientific research

Workshop type

Project Workshop (Project specific talks + Discussions)


Marcus Chibucos, University of Maryland

Co-organizer(s) N/A
Workshop Abstract

The Evidence & Conclusion Ontology (ECO) describes types of scientific evidence within the realm of biological research that can arise from laboratory experiments, computational methods, manual literature curation, and other means. Researchers can use these types of evidence to support assertions about things—such as conclusions about research, gene annotations, or other statements of fact—that result from scientific inquiry. ECO originated sometime around the year 2000 to support Gene Ontology (GO) gene product annotations. Today, however, many groups (more than 30 that we know about) concerned with representing evidence in scientific research use ECO. There are many applications of ECO and its core vocabulary describes evidence concerning diverse realms of science. This workshop will serve as both an introduction to ECO for new users and a forum for discussion about evidence by current or potentially interested users. Specific topics to be covered will include:

  • Representing evidence in scientific research (in general, not just with ECO)
  • Overview, history, and users of ECO
  • ECO architecture, including recent developments
  • Applications of ECO, with some demonstrations by ECO staff, and potentially some by users
  • Introduction to related concepts, such as inference, provenance, and confidence
  • Group discussion about applying ECO, user evidence needs, and so on

After attending this workshop, one should possess not only a basic understanding of ECO’s origins, present status, and development directions, but one should also gain knowledge required to implement and apply ECO for evidence representation at one’s respective resource, project, database, etc. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about the status of the field as concerns evidence, provenance, confidence, and so on. And users will be welcomed to contribute to ECO and collaborate with the ECO team. Although this workshop is geared toward users unfamiliar or less experienced with ECO, all are welcome to attend, regardless of experience. ECO developer(s) will be onsite to address user questions, form new collaborations, consider potential new applications, and discuss general thoughts about evidence. (Advanced ECO users or those familiar with the ongoing ECO-OBI collaboration and wanting to learn more might also consider attending the ECO-OBI workshop co-hosted with OBI developers, although anyone interested may attend.)


With recent support  by the National Science Foundation (DBI award number 1458400), ECO development and outreach efforts have intensified. We are actively developing the ontology to meet the needs of the broader biological research community. We continue to meet the needs of our existing users, including some of the major biological databases such as UniProt, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, various model organism databases, and the Gene Ontology. But we also serve a number of other projects of all scopes and sizes. This will be an opportunity for us to interact with our current users and to introduce potentially interested users to ECO. This workshop will be more interactive than a talk or poster presented at the main conference. In particular, we are targeting new users, which may include young researchers/those new to the field. We feel that this (representing evidence and provenance) is an important and evolving area, so soliciting ongoing feedback from the larger community of researchers and resource providers is essential to our ability to meet the needs of that community. This workshop will provide invaluable two-way communication, which includes listening to our users and introducing new people to this area of research and collaboration.

Funding source (if any) National Science Foundation (award number 1458400)