Data Documentation and Metadata
Research Data Management
Metadata & Data Documentation
Metadata is a term that has primarily been used by library and archives communities to describe standards used to aid the discovery of objects. Metadata standards are composed of metadata elements or sometimes called metadata fields. Metadata standards are created to facilitate searching similar items by using similar terms and constructs to describe them. A metadata record consists of all the metadata elements describing an object. Metadata records are often expressed in XML or other machine-readable formats for easy integration within systems.
There are three basic categories of metadata elements: descriptive, technical/structural, and administrative. All objects also have a unique identifier metadata element.
Data centers and repositories may require specific metadata standards in order to deposit data. Check with any repositories before you begin outlining the metadata plan for your data. If you are unaware of what metadata fields are required for your repository, contact Brian Westra.
A good starting place for a metadata plan if a standard has not been defined for your discipline is Dublin Core or Data-Cite's recommendations. The UO Libraries Digital Library Initiatives group is happy to help with the instructions and/or application of these standards. You may also want to look at various metadata fields used in Dryad or other data repositories to see how other researchers are describing their data.
If your discipline or repository does not require a specific metadata standard, the UO Libraries Digital Library Initiatives group can help advise. Based on the complexity of description, the amount of hours required to create a metadata plan can vary. Please make sure to meet with Metadata Services and Digital Projects (MSDP) to budget for developing a metadata plan before submitting your grant.
Good data documentation includes information on:
At data-level, datasets should also be documented with:
Variable-level descriptions may be embedded within a dataset itself as metadata. Other documentation may be contained in user guides, reports, publications, working papers and laboratory books. (from UK Data Archive)
If possible, include unique identifiers for the identify of authors/contributors with the Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID).
Register public data sets with DataCite (this may be done automatically by some repositories, so confirm with them)
The following are examples of items with metadata highlighted in purple.
Fig. 1. Image metadata in Flickr with title, user (creator), creation date, camera used, photostream (group or relation), tags, copyright information, and privacy setting. See item in Flickr, and additional metadata.
Fig. 2. Data set in Dryad with title, bibliographic citation of published work, identifier, description, data package identifier, keywords, date depostied, file name, file size, file format, file type, and copyright information. See item in Dryad and full metadata view.
Other places to find metadata in action
|Maintained by: Brian Westra, firstname.lastname@example.org|