How semantics and pragmatics interact in understanding conceptual models

Bera, Palash, Burton-Jones, Andrew and Wand, Yair (2014) How semantics and pragmatics interact in understanding conceptual models. Information Systems Research, 25 2: 401-419. doi:10.1287/isre.2014.0515

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Author Bera, Palash
Burton-Jones, Andrew
Wand, Yair
Title How semantics and pragmatics interact in understanding conceptual models
Journal name Information Systems Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1047-7047
Publication date 2014-06
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1287/isre.2014.0515
Open Access Status
Volume 25
Issue 2
Start page 401
End page 419
Total pages 19
Place of publication Hanover, MD, United States
Publisher Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (I N F O R M S)
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Underlying the design of any information system is an explicit or implicit conceptual model of the domain that the system supports. Because of the importance of such models, researchers and practitioners have long focused on how best to construct them. Past research on constructing conceptual models has generally focused on their semantics (their meaning), to discover how to convey meaning more clearly and completely, or their pragmatics (the importance of context in model creation and use), to discover how best to create or use a model in a given situation. We join these literatures by showing how semantics and pragmatics interact. Specifically, we carried out an experiment to examine how the importance of clear semantics in conceptual models—operationalized in terms of ontological clarity—varies depending on the pragmatics of readers' knowledge of the domain shown in the model. Our results show that the benefit of ontological clarity on understanding is concave downward (follows an inverted-U) as a function of readers' prior domain knowledge. The benefit is greatest when readers have moderate knowledge of the domain shown in the model. When readers have high or low domain knowledge, ontological clarity has no apparent benefit. Our study extends the theory of ontological clarity and emphasizes the need to construct conceptual models with readers' knowledge in mind.
Keyword Conceptual modeling
Domain familiarity
Ontological clarity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published Online: 4 April 2014.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 25 Mar 2014, 17:54:43 EST by Andrew Burton-jones on behalf of UQ Business School