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Metadata Explained

  • Metadata for Managing Scientific Data (2012) – Overview of data and metadata's role in enabling discovery and access of scientific research data. Discusses challenges in selection and use of metadata schema amid the "messiness" of the science data deluge.
  • Introduction to Metadata (2016) – An online publication devoted to metadata, its types and uses, and its value in improving access to digital resources.

Disciplinary Metadata

  • Disciplinary Metadata – Resource from the Digital Curation Center for those looking for specific disciplinary metadata specifications. The site provides links to disciplinary metadata standards, profiles, tools to implement the standards, and current repository use cases. For disciplines that do not currently have a standard and for intradisciplinary repositories, the General Research section links to information about broader metadata standards that have been adapted to suit needs of research data.
  • Ontology Lookup Service – Provides a web service interface to query multiple ontologies from a single location with a unified output format. The OLS can integrate any ontology available in the Open Biomedical Ontology (OBO) format.

Below is just a small sampling of metadata standards by discipline:

  • ​Biology and Life Sciences
    • NIH Common Data Elements – NIH portal that contains data elements common to many data sets across differing studies.  CDEs support the improvement of data quality and  data sharing. View collections of CDEs by specific project, or subject area.
    • BioSharing – Works to map the landscape of community developed standards in the life sciences, broadly covering biological, natural and biomedical sciences. BioSharing's goal is to ensure standards are informative and discoverable.
    • Darwin Core – A body of standards, including a glossary of terms (in other contexts these might be called properties, elements, fields, columns, attributes, or concepts) intended to facilitate the sharing of information about biological diversity by providing reference definitions, examples, and commentaries.
  • Physical Sciences
    • Unified Astronomy Thesaurus – An open, interoperable and community-supported thesaurus which unifies the existing divergent and isolated Astronomy & Astrophysics thesauri
    • SPASE Data Model – An information model for describing the elements of the heliophysics data environment.
    • CSMD-CCLRC Core Scientific Metadata Model – A study-data oriented model that captures high-level information about scientific studies and the data that they produce, primarily tailored for the physical sciences.
  • Earth Sciences
    • ISO 19115 – An internationally-adopted schema for describing geographic information and services. It provides information about the identification, the extent, the quality, the spatial and temporal schema, spatial reference, and distribution of digital geographic data.
    • Observations and Measurements – This standard specifies an XML implementation for the OGC and ISO Observations and Measurements (O&M) conceptual model, including a schema for Sampling Features.

last edited 9/25/2020