Stephanie Watson

Metadata Standards

A metadata standard is a model for metadata storage that is approved by a recognized standards organization, such as ISO or FGDC. Metadata standards specify the kinds of information required to describe data. When a metadata document conforms to a standard, it is considered formal metadata. Standards can provide very specific information about details such as values to be provided and how to technically present the metadata.

Metadata standards can be of either or both of these two general types:

Writing Good Metadata

To create quality metadata, it is essential to include all the descriptive information necessary to locate, understand, and use a data set. You can save time and resources by leveraging the work and tools developed by others. Write your metadata in a standard fashion and adhere to the following rules and considerations (based on excerpts from the NOAA Coastal Services Metadata Workshop Materials).

Definition of Metadata

Metadata are used to describe data or information. In environmental sciences like oceanography, metadata describe the information that scientists collect and informs users about the characteristics and history of a data set or data item—including methodological, temporal and spatial information.

The word metadata is sometimes used in a singular form (metadata is). We use the plural (metadata are). Both are in common usage, though in the sciences it’s typically used in the plural.

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