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Metadata Documenting your data. Órna Roche UCD James Joyce Library. An Leabharlann UCD. Metadata definition. Metadata is... data about data

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Documenting your data

Órna Roche

UCD James Joyce Library

An Leabharlann UCD

metadata definition
Metadata definition

Metadata is...

data about data

structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource

Understanding metadata, NISO, 2004

metadata can be
Metadata can be...
  • Human readable
  • Processed by machines
  • Interoperable – enables information to be shared across systems
  • At different levels – overall project metadata and metadata for individual datasets
types of metadata
Types of metadata
  • Descriptive
  • Structural
  • Administrative
    • Rights management metadata
    • Preservation metadata
metadata answers basic questions about data
Metadata answers basic questions about data
  • Who created and maintains the data? Who can access it?
  • Why was the data created?
  • What is the content and structure of the data? What changes have been made to it?
  • When collected? When published?
  • Where is the geographic location? Where is the data held?
  • How was the data produced?
metadata standards
Metadata standards
  • Designed for a specific purpose
  • Can be discipline or format specific
  • Created and managed by expert groups
  • Internationally recognised or certified
  • Ensure consistent metadata creation
  • Enable interoperability & reuse of data
  • Can be simple or very complex
  • User communities are a source of information
dublin core
Dublin Core
  • A general purpose scheme for describing a variety of resources
  • The most commonly used metadata standard
  • Used as a base for other standards or profiles
  • Consists of 15 core elements:
dublin core example
Dublin Core example

<title>Relational database containing a selection from the Irish Dialect Archive</title>

<contributor>De Bhaldraithe, Tomás, 1916-1996</contributor>

<contributor>Laighléis, Tomás</contributor>

<subject>Translating and interpreting -- Ireland</subject>


<subject>Irish language -- Databases</ubject>

<description>Tables are related through the "CartlannID" values. Data is held in both XML format and comma delimited text files (.csv). Character encoding is Unicode (UTF-8)<description>

<publisher>University College, Dublin. Dept. of Modern Irish</publisher>

<type>software, multimedia</type>




<relation>isMemberOf: Irish Dialect Archive - Card Catalogue]</relation>


some other standards to be aware of
Some other standards to be aware of

Data documentation Initiative (DDI)

  • for describing data from the social, behavioral, and economic sciences

ISO 19115/19119

  • for describing geographical information and associated services
  • INSPIRE for spatial information in the EU, based on ISO 19115

Ecological Metadata Language (EML)

  • developed by and for the ecology discipline
considerations for choosing a standard
Considerations for choosing a standard
  • The discipline, domain
  • The format of the data
  • Repository or funder requirements
  • Recognition and/or certification of standard
  • Controlled vocabularies, thesauri, and authorities
  • Available metadata tools
  • Skills required and time available
a quick word about mapping
A quick word about mapping
  • One size does not fit all!
  • Can transform one metadata schema to another using mappings
  • Many standards map to/from Dublin Core
  • Mappings to other standards can be available
  • Some software will export metadata in a variety of standards
  • Beware of potential for mistranslation and issues with granularity
general things to consider
General things to consider
  • Plan and document your metadata approach
  • Consider overall project metadata and individual dataset metadata
  • Think about where the metadata will be stored
  • What tools can you use for managing the metadata
  • Decide who will create the metadata and how
  • Also who will maintain the metadata in the future
  • Determine file formats & file naming procedures
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel!
useful links
Useful links

Niso Press, Understanding Metadata, 2004

UK Data Archive documentation resources

DCC standards watch

Dublin Core metadata basics