STATO is a general-purpose STATistics Ontology.

Its aim is to provide coverage for processes such as statistical tests, their conditions of application,

and information needed or resulting from statistical methods, such as probability distributions, variables, spread and variation metrics.

STATO also covers aspects of experimental design and description of plots and graphical representations

commonly used to provide visual cues of data distribution or layout and to assist review of the results.

View the STATO query cases


Read more about why STATO was developed and the community behind the ontology.

View background »


Find out about what the elements represented in the STATO ontology and links to its content.

View content »


Learn about the main objectives set out for the development of the STATO ontology.

View objectives »


The STATO project started in early 2012, as part of the requirement of the community-driven ISA Commons to represent the results of data analysis.

STATO is a standalone project since Nov 2012. STATO is driven and funded by several ISA-based projects and their user community, but also by collaborations with data publication platforms.

STATO is applicable to, but not limited, the broad life, natural and biomedical science domain with documented applications for factorial design, association studies, differential expression, hit selection and meta-analysis.

STATO has been developed to interoperate with other OBO Foundry ontologies, hence relies on the Basics Formal Ontology (BFO) as a top level ontology and uses the Ontology for Biomedical Investigations (OBI) as mid-level ontology.

The ontology is made available under Creative Commons Attribution License.


STATO provides textual definitions for all terms, as well as formal definitions for most of the terms allowing automatic classification, for example, categorising the statistical methods depending on the nature of the variables used as input, the conditions and their domain of application.

STATO also benefits from:

  1. extensive documentation with the provision of textual and formal definitions;
  2. associated R code snippets via a dedicated 'R-command' annotation, to facilate a 'learn and apply' approach in the popular R environment;
  3. query examples documentation, highlighting how the ontology can be harnessed for reviewers/tutors/student alike.

STATO is developed using the Web Ontology Language (OWL). The latest release can be browsed through BioPortal. The development version and previous releases can be found in the GitHub.


STATO development is informed by use cases, some of which we referred to in the Background section. For more information about users and use cases, see the specific page. STATO is set to provide:

  1. a resource to help in the communication and reporting of scientific results for biologists, scientists using statistical methods. STATO can also currently support Publishers and Journal reviewers by helping reporting guideline compliance and standardizing annotation of result tables
  2. a set of core classes for annotating statistical methods used in life, natural and biomedical sciences investigations, but also metrics and estimates generated by those methods and link to the hypothesis being evaluated to allow better representation and data review.
  3. formal definitions of most common univariate statistical tests to provide a didactic framework for students and reviewers
  4. a formal way of navigating the conditions of application of classic statistical tests and distinguishing them
  5. a semantic framework to support the creation of standardized analysis reports to help with review of results
  6. a specialized vocabulary enabling text mining of statistical analyses.