Understanding relationships with attributes in entity-relationship diagrams

Burton-Jones, Andrew and Weber, Ron A. (1999). Understanding relationships with attributes in entity-relationship diagrams. In: Proceedings of the Twentieth International Conference on Information Systems. 20th Annual International Conference on Information Systems ICIS'99, Charlotte, North Carolina, (214-228). 12-15 Dec, 1999.

Author Burton-Jones, Andrew
Weber, Ron A.
Title of paper Understanding relationships with attributes in entity-relationship diagrams
Conference name 20th Annual International Conference on Information Systems ICIS'99
Conference location Charlotte, North Carolina
Conference dates 12-15 Dec, 1999
Proceedings title Proceedings of the Twentieth International Conference on Information Systems
Place of Publication Atlanta, GA, USA
Publisher Association for Information Systems (ACM Digital Library)
Publication Year 1999
Sub-type Fully published paper
Start page 214
End page 228
Total pages 15
Collection year 1999
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Conceptual modeling is an important task undertaken during the systems development process to build a representation of those features of an application domain that are important to stakeholders. In spite of its importance, however, substantial evidence exists to show that it is not done well. Designers often provide incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent representations of domain features in the conceptual models they prepare. Users often have difficulty understanding the meaning inherent in a conceptual model. In this paper, we investigate the proposition that part of the difficulties that stakeholders experience with conceptual modeling arises when a conceptual modeling grammar or a representation produced using the grammar lacks ontological clarity. Lack of ontological clarity arises when a one-one mapping does not exist between conceptual modeling constructs and real-world constructs. For example, the grammatical construct of an entity is used to represent both things and events in the real world. Specifically, we focus on the grammatical construct of a relationship with attributes, which is often used in entity-relationship modeling. We argue that use of this construct produces ontologically unclear representations of a domain. We also report results from an experiment we undertook where we investigated the impact of using relationships with attributes in conceptual modeling representations on the problem-solving performance of users of these representations. Consistent with our predictions, we found that using relationships with attributes undermined problem-solving performance in unfamiliar domains. Contrary to our predictions, however, their use did not undermine problem-solving performance in familiar domains.
Subjects E1
700103 Information processing services
280111 Conceptual Modelling
Keyword Conceptual modeling
entity-relationship modeling
ontology
experimental research
problem solving
perceived ease of understanding
Q-Index Code E1

 
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Created: Fri, 06 Jun 2008, 16:34:23 EST