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What is Metadata?

Metadata is the data that you use to describe and document the research data that you have collected. It contains descriptive elements, of which examples are listed below. Metadata will make your data sets searchable in an archive or repository, easily located from a citation, and easily understood by people who might want to use your data.

Basic Metadata Elements

These are some  ISO suggested minimal metadata elements to use when you are documenting your data:

  • Title
  • Creator (Principal Investigators)
  • Date Created (also versions)
  • Format (and software required)
  • Subject
  • Unique Identifier
  • Description of the specific data resource
  • Coverage of the data (spatial or temporal)
  • Publishing Organization
  • Type of Resource
  • Rights
  • Funding or Grant

Additional Metadata Standards Resources

Metadata Standards

General: Dublin Core | MODS
Social Science: DDI
Humanities: TEI | VRA
Sciences: Darwin Core | ITIS | EML | DIF | CIFSEED | FGDC | ISO 19115 | GIF

A metadata standard or schema is a set group of elements that have been standardized for a particular field. Please contact your subject specialist if you need to know more about metadata standards used in your discipline.

Map of metadata standardsDublin Core (DC)Metadata Object Description SchemaText Encoding Initiative (TEI)Visual resources Association Core (VRA)Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)ISO 19115Ecology Metadata Language (ELM)Directory Interchange Format (DIF)Standard for the Exchange of Earthquake Data (SEED)Darwin CoreIntegrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)

Creative Commons License
Metadata Concept Map by Amanda Tarbet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

* Note: Geospatial Interoperability Framework discontinued.