Assessing resource use: a case study with the Human Disease Ontology

Database (Oxford). 2023 Feb 28:2023:baad007. doi: 10.1093/database/baad007.


As a genomic resource provider, grappling with getting a handle on how your resource is utilized can be extremely challenging. At the same time, being able to thus document the plethora of use cases is vital to demonstrate sustainability. Herein, we describe a flexible workflow, built on readily available software, that the Human Disease Ontology (DO) project has utilized to transition to semi-automated methods to identify uses of the ontology in the published literature. The novel R package DO.utils ( has been devised with a small set of key functions to support our usage workflow in combination with Google Sheets. Use of this workflow has resulted in a 3-fold increase in the number of identified publications that use the DO and has provided novel usage insights that offer new research directions and reveal a clearer picture of the DO's use and scientific impact. The DO's resource use assessment workflow and the supporting software are designed to be useful to other resources, including databases, software tools, method providers and other web resources, to achieve similar results. Database URL:

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Software*
  • Workflow