NISO Draft Standards-Specific Ontology Standard Now Open For Public Comments

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) today announced that the Z39.103 Standards-Specific Ontology Standard (SSOS) Working Group has released its draft standard for public comment. Members of the global information community are invited to provide their input. NISO SSOS provides a high-level generic ontology describing the life cycle of consensus-based standardization projects and published standards. 

All standards-developing organizations (SDOs) follow their own specific processes and rules; however, these processes share many common features and development stages. The Standards-Specific Ontology Standard has been developed to help standards users, who typically interact with standards from multiple organizations, better understand all stages of the standards life cycle, from development through publication to maintenance to archiving/withdrawal. It provides a generic, non-SDO-specific description of the standards life cycle to which the stages and deliverables of standards from different SDOs can be mapped. Ultimately, the SSOS will allow for better information systems and improved automated retrieval of life cycle information across a wide range of standardization activities and standards products in many organizations.

“We are very grateful to everyone on the Working Group who provided the use case descriptions for the standards life cycle ontology, as well as to the many organizations that provided input based on their own standards life cycles,” said Robert Wheeler, Director of Publishing Technologies at ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and Co-chair of the SSOS Working Group. “We now warmly welcome feedback on the draft SSOS, so that we can ensure that the final version, intended to be an ANSI/NISO standard, meets the needs of standards users and developers everywhere.”

“We hope that, once published, the ontology will be used by developers, publishers, distributors, and users of standards—national standards bodies, regional and international standards bodies, standards development organizations, businesses,” added fellow Co-chair, Cord Wischhöfer, Managing Director at DIN Software GmbH. “It will enable them to improve the life cycle information of their own standards, as well as better structure, analyze, and compare development stages of standardization activities and the life cycle of standards publications.”

“Our thanks to Robert, Cord, and all Z39.103 SSOS Working Group members for their work and contributions to this new draft standard,” said Nettie Lagace, NISO’s Associate Executive Director. “Collectively, they represent a broad swath of standards organizations and users—from aeronautics to publishing—and we look forward to receiving feedback from the wider standards community to help ensure SSOS’s broad adoption, once comments are addressed, the standard is approved by NISO Voting Members and ANSI, and published.”

The draft Standards-Specific Ontology Standard is available for public comment at from January 31 to March 16.  An OWL version of the ontology is also available for comment, linked at the same address.

About NISO

Based in Baltimore, MD, NISO’s mission is to build knowledge, foster discussion, and advance authoritative standards development through collaboration among the cultural, scholarly, scientific, and professional communities. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages with libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of information standards. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For more information, visit the NISO website ( or contact us at


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Nettie Lagace

Associate Executive Director
Nettie Lagace is the Associate Executive Director at NISO, where she is responsible for facilitating the work of NISO's topic committees and development groups for standards and best practices, and ...