Many real-world ontologies contain thousands of terms and are developed by multiple participants. The use of monolithic ontologies can cause problems that affect various stages of the ontology life cycle. Thus, there is an urgent need for tools and methodologies that facilitate modular ontology design. The benefits of a modular approach include division of labor, scalability, partial reuse, and broadened participation. This article presents a methodology for modular ontology development. The main idea is to facilitate an interoperable hierarchical network of ontology modules. Modules are designed as a combination of more abstract modules in higher levels of the hierarchy. This methodology differs from previous methodologies in the way that it defines concrete development steps, to facilitate use by both naive and expert ontology developers. This methodology is also supported by ontology design patterns and a prototypical ontology development tool. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.