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Research Data Management: Metadata 101 (Oct 2019): Getting Started

A Visualization of the Metadata Universe

Define Your Standards

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

  • Define your data elements and structure

Dublin Core - Defines fifteen basic metadata elements for resource discovery in a cross-disciplinary information environment, designed for interoperability. Learn more about the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

  • What disciplinary or domain standards are relevant?

Research Data Alliance (RDA) Metadata Standards Directory - Find standards by subject area; view tools and use cases.

Disciplinary Metadata - from the Digital Curation Centre in the UK


Arts - Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)

Ecological data - Ecological Metadata Language

Biological data - Darwin Core

Geographic data - ISO19115; see also FGDC - Federal Geographic Data Committee

Social science data - Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)

  • Where (how) will you be sharing your data?

Registry of Research Data Repositories - repositories may have their own requirements for data submission.

For example: USDA Ag Data Commons



Standards Define Consistency

Define content standards, for example:

  • 10-03-19
  • 03.10.19
  • 19/10/03

Preferred: 2019-10-03 (YYYY-MM-DD, based on ISO 8601)

Define value standards:


Cautionary Tale:

Creating a Data Dictionary

What's in a Data Dictionary and more from USGS

Creating a Data Dictionary with template from USDA Ag Data Commons

Learning Data Analytics - LinkedIn Learning course includes Creating a Data Dictionary 

Metadata Editors

Good list of metadata editors and tools from DataONE - 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)

Metadata cleanup


Metadata Crosswalks

You may need to use a crosswalk to convert your metadata to a different standard. Examples include:

FGDC to a variety of schemas - from NOAA

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

Metadata is a Love Note to the Future