Metadata best practices

Metadata is information about the context, content, quality, provenance, and/or accessibility of a set of data. In order for your data to be accessible to you or other researchers, it must be properly collected and stored.

If you are seeking to organize your data, libraries staff can help by providing the right tools, standards, and protocols to help create metadata that can be shared, usable in a broader context, and preserved into the future.

Metadata is:
  • Frequently required for depositing a data set in disciplinary repositories.
  • Necessary for the longevity and reproducibility of research data.
  • Useful for analyzing the data in data files.

Get help with your metadata needs - see what the libraries offer for metadata services.

Metadata services currently include:
  • Assistance with metadata applications.
  • Consultation and project planning.
  • Development and implementation of metadata schemes and standards.
  • Creation of best practices to enhance searching and accessing your data.

Metadata can exist in a variety of formats, including:

A text or HTML document
You can also use a text document to create a data dictionary.  A data dictionary records information about metadata elements, sub-elements and attributes and provides sample content. It is a good way to record what type of metadata standard you are using, and if there is any variation from the standard. Read more about metadata standards below.

An XML document either linked to the data files, or embedded within it
If you are using XML, it is probably already following an established metadata standard.  For example, the XML tags, such as <dc:title>, correspond to a set of defined Dublin Core elements. Dublin Core is one of the most common metadata standards, and may meet most of your metadata needs.  Read more about the Dublin Core Element Set, version 1.1.