Call for Papers

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Definition and scope

The FOIS conference is a meeting point for all researchers with an interest in formal ontology. Formal ontology is the systematic study of the types of entities and relations making up the domains of interest represented in modern information systems. The conference encourages submission of high quality, not previously published results on both theoretical issues and practical advancements. FOIS 2023 will have distinct tracks for foundational issues, ontology applications and methods, and domain ontologies.

FOIS aims to be a nexus of interdisciplinary research and communication for researchers from many domains engaging with formal ontology. Common application areas include conceptual modeling, database design, knowledge engineering and management, software engineering, organizational modeling, artificial intelligence, robotics, computational linguistics, the life sciences, bioinformatics and scientific research in general, geographic information science, information retrieval, library and information science, as well as the Semantic Web.

FOIS is the flagship conference of the International Association for Ontology and its Applications (IAOA), which is a non-profit organization promoting interdisciplinary research and international collaboration in formal ontology.

Important dates

  • Authors must submit an abstract by: January 31, 2023 (AoE)
  • The full papers are due (extended): February 12, 2023 (AoE)
  • Author rebuttal period: March 24-31, 2023 (tentative)
  • Notifications: April 10, 2023 (tentative)
  • Camera-ready papers: May 1, 2023
  • Onsite conference: July 17-20, 2023
  • Virtual conference: week of September 18, 2023

The submission deadline for workshops will be after the notifications to allow authors to submit a revised version of rejected papers to any of the conference workshops if the paper topics are appropriate for this workshop.


FOIS 2023 will consist of a physical meeting and a virtual meeting: 

  1. An in-person only meeting in Sherbrooke, Qu├ębec from July 17 to 20, 2023 that will be very much like a traditional conference with keynotes, regular talks, workshops and tutorials and plenty of social and networking opportunities. This part will not have a remote participation option, but we plan on recording selected talks (e.g. keynotes). 
  2. This will be followed by an online part to be held from September 18 to 20, 2023 that offers an opportunity for presentation and discussion of additional papers that were not presented at the physical meeting in Sherbrooke. 

To plan for this two-part event, authors must at the time of submission indicate their preference and constraints for presenting either on site in Sherbrooke or virtually. Acceptance will be either for in-person presentation or for online presentation, at which time authors can no longer change the modality. Since the numbers of in-person and online presentations are limited, we encourage authors to be as flexible as possible to maximize your chance of paper acceptance. More details are provided in the Submission Instructions (see below). 


FOIS 2023 seeks three types of full-length (14 pages) high-quality papers on a wide range of topics:

  • Foundational papers address content-related ontological issues, their formal representation, and their relevance to some aspect of information systems.
  • Application and Methods papers address novel systems, methods, and tools related to building, evaluating, or using ontologies, emphasizing the impact of ontology contents.
  • Domain ontology papers describe a novel ontology for a specific realm of interest, clarifying ontological choices against requirements and foundational theory, and showing ontology use.

Please refer to the Submissions Instructions for more details. As usual, the FOIS proceedings will be published by IOS Press.

The conference will also offer workshops and tutorials related to formal ontologies. See the separate Call for Workshops and Tutorials Proposals for more information. 

Topics of interest

Areas of particular interest to FOIS include the following:

Foundational Issues
  • Kinds of entities: particulars/universals, continuants/occurrents, abstracta/concreta, dependent entities/independent entities, natural objects/artifacts, events/processes
  • Formal relations: parthood, identity, connection, dependence, constitution, causality, subsumption, instantiation
  • Vagueness and granularity
  • Space, time, and change
Methodological issues
  • Top-level vs. domain-specific ontologies
  • Role of reference ontologies
  • Ontology similarity, integration, alignment, matching and entity reconciliation
  • Ontology modularity, patterns, and contextuality
  • Ontology evaluation, quality, reuse, adaptation, and evolution
  • Ontology compliance with FAIR principles
  • Formal comparison among ontologies
  • Relationship between conceptual modeling and ontologies
  • Relationship with cognition, language, semantics, and context
  • Connections between knowledge graphs and ontologies
  • Methodological issues in the applications of ontologies
  • Social issues, such as trust or bias, with respect to ontologies 
  • Technical applications of ontologies, such as
    • Semantic Web
    • Other areas of AI (Machine Learning, Explainable AI, Rules)
    • Qualitative modeling
  • Systems applications of ontologies, such as
    • Ontology-driven information systems design
    • Ontology-based data access
    • Knowledge management
    • Information retrieval
    • Computational linguistics
    • Metadata management
  • Domain applications of ontologies, such as
    • Ontologies for business modeling
    • Ontologies for particular scientific disciplines (biology, chemistry, geography, physics, geoscience, cognitive sciences, linguistics, etc.)
    • Ontologies for engineering: shape, form and function, artifacts, manufacturing, design, architecture, etc.
    • Ontologies for the humanities: arts, cultural studies, history, literature, philosophy, etc.
    • Ontologies for the social sciences: economics, law, political science, anthropology, archeology, etc.
    • Ontologies for Open Science and dataset sharing
Domain-specific ontologies
  • Ontology of physical reality (matter, space, time, motion, etc.)
  • Ontology of biological reality (organisms, genes, proteins, cells, etc.)
  • Ontology of mental reality and agency (beliefs, intentions, emotions, perceptions, cognition, etc.)
  • Ontology of artifacts, functions, capacities and roles
  • Ontology of social reality (institutions, organizations, norms, social relationships, artistic expressions, etc.)

Submission Instructions

  • Papers must be submitted via Easychair:
  • Each submission must put the track (see below) as the first keyword, followed by other keywords specific to the paper.
  • For each paper, authors must indicate their presentation preference as per the instructions below.
  • Authors are limited to a maximum of two first-authored submissions, with no limit to the number of co-authored submissions. Any individual may present no more than two accepted papers.

Paper format requirements

Reviewing Process

Each paper will be assigned at least 3 reviewers. All reviews will be anonymous. The authors will have a chance to respond to the initial reviews during the rebuttal phase. This phase gives authors a chance to correct or clarify any factual knowledge in the reviews and to address any specific questions that reviewers may have.

Submission and Review Criteria for the Foundations Track
  • Scope: foundational papers address content-related ontological issues, their formal representation, and their relevance to some aspect of information systems. Foundational papers may explore domain general ontological topics (e.g., mereology) or be concerned with general categories (e.g., papers on upper ontologies). Papers concerned with the philosophical, logical or mathematical foundations of applied ontology are also included in this track.
  • Review criteria: will consider (1) the significance and clarity of the problem statement; (2) the novelty and weight of the ontological / philosophical / logical / mathematical analysis; (3) the soundness of any formalism, (4) the relevance to some aspect of information systems; and (5) the adequate satisfaction of issues or requirements from the problem statement. If the paper contains theorems without proofs, the proofs should be made available to reviewers as an appendix to the paper. The page limit will not be applied to this appendix, and the appendix will not be included in the final publication.
Submission and Review Criteria for the Applications and Methods Track
  • Scope: papers in this track address novel methods, systems and tools related to building, evaluating, or using ontologies, emphasizing the impact of ontology contents on the application. If a paper is about how ontologies are used in some computational system, such as for recommendation, semantic search, or machine learning, or if it is about new methods or tools that, for example, help design, evaluate, modularize, or compare ontologies, then it belongs in this track.
  • Review criteria: will follow typical computer science criteria, including the novelty, significance and soundness of the work as evident in the problem statement and requirements, the related work, as well as the methodology and evaluation, with evaluation typically including implementation, results, and analysis.
Submission and Review Criteria for the Domain Ontology Track
  • Scope: domain ontology papers describe a novel ontology for a specific realm of interest. The goal is not just to reproduce the content of the ontology in some abbreviated form, but to provide added value enabling a reader to better understand and use the ontology. Hence, the paper should focus on providing: (1) background information and an overview of contents (e.g., motivation, domain, scope, requirements, ontology language, modularity, statistical information); (2) a comparison with related ontologies to highlight differences and benefits; (3) a description of methodology and ontology design choices; (4) an evaluation of the ontology against requirements and possibly foundational theory, and (5) discussion of actual or potential use. Moreover, all ontologies discussed in the paper should be accessible to reviewers.
  • Review criteria: will consider the novelty, significance, and soundness of the required elements (just listed above).
Presentation preferences

When submitting a paper, you must indicate your availability to present the paper in-person or online, choosing one of the following options:

  • (1) Only in-person (not willing or able to present online)
  • (2) Prefer in-person presentation but will present online if asked to do so
  • (3) No preference: will present either in-person or online
  • (4) Prefer online presentation but will present in-person if asked to do so
  • (5) Only online (not willing or able to present in-person)

Note that if you select any of (2)-(4), this will not have any impact on the acceptance decision as we reserve the right to assign papers with such preferences for in-person or online presentation at the discretion of the program chairs. These decisions will be final and presentation in the assigned format will be a condition of publication of your paper.

However, while the quality of submissions is the foremost criteria for selection, if you choose option (1) or (5), this may negatively impact acceptance of papers that are deemed worthy of acceptance but for which no presentation slot in the selected format (in-person or online) is available. For this reason, choose this option only if you anticipate not being able to travel to Sherbrooke or if you are unavailable for the duration of the online part.