Documentation and Metadata provide the descriptive information about a data set that explains its meaning. Good metadata provides context for the data. Metadata and documentation should be sufficient to enable research data to be found, understood, reused and managed throughout its lifecycle.
Do you have questions about the metadata for your dataset? Need assistance? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ensuring that data be understood, interpreted and used, requires clear and detailed data documentation. Sharing data for long-lasting usability would be impossible with out documentation (also known as metadata) .
It is important to begin to document your data at the very beginning of your research project and continue throughout the project. By doing so will make data documentation easier and reduce the likelihood that you will forget aspects of your data later in the research project. Don’t wait until the end to start to document your research project and its data!
There are hundred's of metadata standards available. Dublin Core is one which was created to be used for any type of resource, including a dataset. It has 15 elements that cover the basics. I've listed them, and a brief discription of the elements, in the next section. There other attributes which are important to properly identify your dataset:
Many disciplines have standards and schemas designed specifically for their types of data. Funders may require the data that you will share to use a specific standard. Repositories may require that all data submitted to them for deposit use a specific standard. It is best practice to choose a repository early in a project so you can identify which standard you will be required to use.
There are several services that list many of the standards.
OpenGeoportal provides a guide to geospatial metadata tools, standards and information
Like to try using the Dublin Core? The dublin core generator is an online tool that you can use to generate fully-formed Dublin Core metadata code.
The Simple Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a set of 15 vocabulary terms that can be used to describe resources. It is a standard for cross-domain resource description: ANSI/NISO Z39.85-2012. Each element is optional, and can be repeated. The elements are listed below, followed by a short description of how they could be used for a dataset. This element set is also appropriate for other related resourses, such as supplemental documentation.