What is a knowledge graph, a so-called Open Research Knowledge Graph (ORKG)? And how could knowledge graphs change research and science communication in the future? Questions like these were the focus of the official inaugural lecture on 20 May 2019 by Prof. Dr. Sören Auer, Director of the TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology and Professor of Data Science and Digital Libraries at Leibniz University Hannover.
The Open Knowledge Research Graph – a research area at the TIB
After a short introduction by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörn Ostermann from the Institute of Information Processing at Leibniz University, Auer spoke about his idea of knowledge graphs and how they could revolutionize science communication.
Information flows in the digital era
Auer clearly showed how information flows have changed in the digital era: Twenty years ago, printed city maps, telephone books and traditional mail-order catalogues were still part of our everyday lives; they have now been replaced by navigation systems, internet search engines and online commerce. According to Auer, little has happened in science communication in recent years. Scientists often published their research results as they did 20 years ago: as printed publications, perhaps with an additional digital version that is open access. The problem is that these documents are difficult to share and are not machine-readable.
Development towards knowledge-based information flows
With a knowledge graph, however, information can be digitally linked. The exchange of knowledge in science and research would thus develop from the current document-centred exchange of knowledge to knowledge-based information flows. Knowledge graphs can enable new access to knowledge, knowledge would be linked differently and related to each other, so that completely new aspects could become visible, explained Auer. And this is exactly what Auer and his team are working on. The TIB presents the current state of research at projects.tib.eu/orkg/.
At the end of his one-hour lecture, Auer introduced his colleagues who are working with him on the Open Research Knowledge Graph. For his research work "SCIENCEGraph – Knowledge Graph based Representation, Augmentation and Exploration of Scholarly Communication", Auer received the renowned ERC Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) at the end of 2018. As of May 2019, Auer and his staff will have two million euros in funding available for the next five years. The project is located at the Leibniz Joint Lab Data Science & Open Knowledge, which is jointly operated by the TIB and the L3S Research Center.