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Metadata: Data about your Data   Tags: metadata, research_data  

Guide of various metadata related resources.
Last Updated: Nov 27, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Metadata Overview

What is Metadata?

Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource. Metadata is often called data about data or information about information.

This definition comes from the National Institute Standards Organization (NISO) publication Understanding Metadata

Metadata in Plain Language - USGS gives a good overview for creating metadata

Minimal metadata to keep with the data:

  • About the project:
    • Title, people, key dates, funders and grants
  • About the data:
    • Title, key dates, creator(s), subjects, rights included files, format(s), versions, checksums
    • Interpretive aids: codebooks, data dictionaries, algorighms, code



    Good list of metadata editors and tools from DataONE - list includes editors for Geospatial and Ecological data as well as editors for more generic data.

    Additional Metadata editors:

    Geospatial Data -

    Ecological data - Morpho - Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity

    Bioldiversity dataDarwin Archive Spreadsheet Processor from Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) generates EML from a spreadsheet template

    Scientific data - Directory Interchange Format (DIF)

    Social Science and Archiving -

    • DDI Tools - List of Freeware and Commercial tools for working with DDI docs from Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)
    • EAD Toolkit - A variety of EAD related tools from the California Digital Library

    Humanities, Social Sciences and Linguistics - TEI Tools from Text Encoding Inititiative (TEI)

    Arts -

    Metadata cleanup



      "The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from." -author unknown

      Disciplinary Metadata - from the Digital Curation Centre in the UK

      Geospatial data  - FGDC - Federal Geographic Data Committee

      • Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) - is the current US Federal Metadata standard
      • North American Profile (NAP) - internation metadata standard

      Ecological data - Ecological Metadata Language (EML)

      Biological data - Darwin Core - examples

      Scientific data - Directory Interchange Format (DIF)

      Social Science and Archiving -

      • Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)
      • Encoded Archival Description (EAD)

      Humanities, Social Sciences and Linguistics - Text Encoding Inititiative (TEI)

      Arts -

      • Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)
      • Visual Resources Association (VRA)


        Metadata Crosswalks

        You may need to use a crosswalk to convert your metadata to a different standard, here are some options:

        FGDC to a variety of schemas - from NOAA

        CDWA to VRA 4.0 to MODS to EAD - from The Getty


          Subject Guide

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          Susan Borda
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          Kolligian Library
          University of California, Merced
          5200 North Lake Road
          Merced, CA 95343
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