Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


Conceptual modeling continues to be an important means for graphically capturing the requirements of an information system. Observations of modeling practice suggest that modelers often use multiple modeling grammars in combination to articulate various aspects of real-world domains. We extend an ontological theory of representation to suggest why and how users employ multiple conceptual modeling grammars in combination. We provide an empirical test of the extended theory using survey data and structured interviews about the use of traditional and structured analysis grammars within an automated tool environment. We find that users of the analyzed tool combine grammars to overcome the ontological incompleteness that exists in each grammar. Users further selected their starting grammar from a predicted subset of grammars only. The qualitative data provides insights as to why some of the predicted deficiencies manifest in practice differently than predicted.