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Research Data Management

What is Metadata?

Metadata is defined as a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.  It is data about data.  Metadata ensures that data is useful, manageable, and discoverable.  It is information about the context, content, quality, provenance, and/or accessibility of data, and it is critical for ensuring the longevity and reproducibility of research data.  Some basic characteristics of metadata include:

  • 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

A metadata standard or schema is a set group of elements that have been standardized for a particular field of research. A DMP should describe what metadata schema will be used and why that particular schema is appropriate for the research data that will be preserved.  Some scientific disciplines have already established metadata standards for data sets. Additionally, some data repositories also have their own standards.  This section will provide information on various metadata schemas and links to more information about them.

Metadata Standards

Map of metadata standards

Metadata Directories

Basic Metadata

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

  • Title
  • Creator (Principal Investigators)
  • Date Created (also versions)
  • Format
  • 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