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Metadata working level Guide

This comprehensive 11 page Guide is intended to provide a generic working-level view of the needs, issues, and processes around metadata collection and creation as it relates to research data.

For those needing information and advice about the RIF-CS metadata schema used for Research Data Australia, please see the RDA Content Providers Guide.

Key messages

  • Richly described metadata is the key to making research data publishable, discoverable, citable and reusable into the longer term
  • Collection, updating and maintaining metadata are necessary inclusions in the planning and budgeting of all research projects
  • Because digital data objects often change location, managing the link between data and metadata is critical and there are technologies eg persistent identifiers which support this persistent linking of data and metadata
  • Use one or several of the plethora of established metadata standards as much as possible: If your project is the only one to use a particular metadata element set, it creates a barrier to interoperability and reuse.


  • What is metadata?
  • Metadata for research data
    • Why create metadata?
    • Finding data
    • ​Determining the value of data
    • Accessing data
    • Using and reusing data
  • Levels of metadata
  • ​Types of metadata
  • ​​The lingua franca of metadata
    • Elements and schemas
    • ​Standards
    • ​Content rules and controlled vocabularies
    • Namespaces
    • ​Cross-walking different metadata schemas
  • Developing your metadata schema
    • ​Plan from the user’s perspective
    • Finding and choosing a metadata schema
    • Adopt, adapt, or invent/create your schema?
  • ​Collecting and storing Metadata
    • Collecting metadata
    • ​Linking metadata and data
    • ​Metadata within the data file
      • Metadata as a separate file(s)
      • Spreadsheets and databases
      • Specialised metadata and data stores

Metadata working level Guide