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Research Data Management: Metadata 101 (Oct 2019): Purpose of Metadata

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

FAIR Data Principles

FINDABLE: Metadata and data should be easy to find for both humans and computers.

ACCESSIBLE: Once the user finds the required data, s/he needs to know how can they be accessed.

INTEROPERABLE: Data usually need to be integrated with other data. And data need to interoperate with applications or workflows for analysis, storage, and processing.

REUSABLE: Metadata and data should be well-described so they can be replicated and/or combined in different settings.

Exercise 1: What Metadata Do You Need?

  • What else do you want to know about this dataset? If someone wanted to use this dataset, what information is missing?

Metadata Answers:

  • Who created the data
  • What the data file contains
  • When the data were generated
  • Where the data were generated
  • Why the data were generated
  • How the data were generated

Types of Metadata

  • Descriptive: information needed to identify and find a resource (data)
  • Administrative: information needed to manage the resource (data) and about its creation
    • Technical, e.g. file format, tools to read or render
    • Preservation, e.g. version control, checksums
    • Rights, e.g. IP, license, terms and conditions on access or use
  • Structural: information on how the components relate to each other, e.g. sequence, hierarchy