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Library Research Guides

Research Data Management (Health Sciences)

What are Metadata Standards?

Metadata means, simply, data about data. In the context of research data management, metadata refers to both data documentation, and to structured information that conforms to a metadata standard.

Metadata structures are often referred to as schemas. A schema is a logical plan which shows the relationships between metadata elements. The completed metadata are often reported in a machine-readable language such as XML.

Most data repositories require that your project metadata follows a specific standard. A widely-used, general purpose metadata standard is the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. This standard defines fifteen properties used to describe data:

  • Contributor - An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource.
  • Coverage - The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant.
  • Creator - An entity primarily responsible for making the resource.
  • Date - A point or period of time associated with an event in the life cycle of the resource.
  • Description - An account of the resource.
  • Format - The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource.
  • Identifier - An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context.
  • Language - A language of the resource.
  • Publisher - An entity responsible for making the resource available.
  • Relation - A related resource.
  • Rights - Information about rights held in and over the resource.
  • Source - A related resource from which the described resource is derived.
  • Subject - The topic of the resource.
  • Title - A name given to the resource
  • Type - The nature or genre of the resource


Finding Metadata Standards