MMI Terms of Reference

1. Purpose

MMI is a focal point for broad-based community input to address technical issues relating to marine metadata and data management. It brings together international membership to address common technical and scientific goals for the marine observing community. The work will support the data management needs of individual scientists, technologists, and projects, so as to increase their participation in an interoperable environmental sciences infrastructure.

MMI's work will contribute to a common data management and communications framework to support two major national initiatives in the United States, NSF's Ocean Observing Initiative (OOI) and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), the US ocean component of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). Thus the effort supports the international marine community, augmenting and connecting existing metadata initiatives by other organizations. NSF, Ocean.US, NOAA, and the Office of Naval Research have provided support toward this initiative.

2. Objectives

The objectives of the MMI project are to engage and inform the ocean science community in the creation of interoperable, metadata-centric data systems. The project will do so by: a) providing guidance and reference documentation on properly using and developing metadata solutions for the ocean science community; b) encouraging community involvement in the development and evaluation of the documentation; and c) using test-bed activities to demonstrate the functions of metadata in cross-platform, cross-disciplinary, interoperable distributed data systems.

3. Support

3.1. Background

Initial funding for MMI was received from the National Sciences Foundation, with in-kind support provided by the Southeastern Universities Research Association. Bridge funding at the end of the first year was provided by NOAA's Coastal Services Center.

An additional 3-year grant has been awarded by the National Science Foundation.

There appears to be potential for other funding sources for specific MMI projects.

3.2. Plans

The MMI intends to be independently funded from a variety of sources, potentially including grants, proposals, membership fees, consultant fees, and user fees. Toward this end, MMI will look to develop an organizational framework, which allows it independent financial authority.

4. Community Participation

4.1. Membership

Any interested person can participate in the MMI project and/or become a member of MMI's web site. Scientific and technical members of the marine science community are especially encouraged to participate.

No a priori conditions are required for membership or participation.

4.2. Activities

The broader ocean science community can participate in the project in the following ways:

  • registering as a member of the MMI web site
  • posting comments and material to the MMI web site
  • recommending and implementing improvements to the site (consistent with the guidance of the Technical Team, described below)
  • collaborating in MMI-sponsored prototypes and tasks
  • becoming members of the Technical Team or other working groups through the processes described above
  • volunteer assistance to special projects and demonstrations
  • representing their organization, via submission of signed authority from cognizant legal entity
  • participating in broader MMI meetings, workshops, and presentations
  • submitting ideas to the leads of the Technical Team
  • receiving email updates from MMI
  • contacting the MMI Project Lead, the Technical Lead, or any other member of MMI advisory and implementing bodies (all terms are described below)

Participants are strongly encouraged to contribute their own expertise and opinion for the improvement of the MMI site and products. Problems or concerns may be reported to the MMI Project Lead, Technical Lead, or any of the advisory bodies described below.

4.3. Policies

The goal of MMI is free and open communication of metadata-related information. Participation of individuals in public discussions of MMI, through any of the above or other ways, gives that individual's permission to use their material in an open and public forum.

Members of the MMI web site are required to adhere to any policies and conditions posted on the site. Refusal to do so may result in cancellation of the individual's membership on the site.

5. Policy-Making Bodies

The roles, responsibilities, and processes of the different entities involved in MMI policy-making are described below. An organizational chart is included in Figure 1.

5.1 MMI Project Lead


The MMI Project Lead is determined by a majority vote of the Steering Committee. Multiple votes may be required until a majority is reached.  If no majority is reached and the incumbent is no longer available, the lead of the largest MMI grant acts as MMI Project Lead in an interim capacity.  The MMI SC members can propose candidates.  A recommendation may also be forwarded from the Executive Committee in advance of that vote, at their discretion.  The meeting is led by the PI of the largest MMI grant that is not running for the position.


The MMI Project Lead is responsible for coordinating and guiding MMI activities, though each MMI Principal Investigator is ultimately responsible for the implementation of their own MMI grants.  The MMI Project Lead is responsible for articulating most conclusions relating to MMI policy and overall direction, and obtaining agreement of the MMI Steering Committee and Principal Investigators.  The MMI Project Lead oversees progress on the project, as well as suggests or coordinates tasks, in conjunction with MMI Technical Leads and Principal Investigators, as necessary, to the MMI staff, Executive Committee, Steering Committee, and Technical Teams.

The MMI Project Lead does not have any legal authority over MMI grants, but provides collaborative guidance for the grantees and serves at their behest.  The MMI Project Lead is not precluded from being a Lead Principal Investigator on an MMI grant.

The MMI Project Lead is expected to solicit feedback on project-related issues from the MMI staff, Executive Committee, Steering Committee, Technical Team, Science Advisory Panel, Technical Advisory Team, any additional working groups, and the broader community.

5.2 Executive Committee


The Executive Committee consists of any funded Principal Investigators (PIs) on currently active MMI-sponsored proposals (those proposals initiated by MMI).


The Executive Committee assists the MMI Project Lead in making significant policy decisions, particularly on sensitive or time-critical matters.

The Executive Committee's role is to implement the MMI directions set by the Steering Committee. The PIs on the Executive Committee are expected to take a lead role in planning and implementing the activities of the project.

Executive Committee members are expected to provide timely responses to requests initiated by the MMI Project Lead. Lack of a timely response shall be construed as acceptance of the decisions taken by the rest of the Executive Committee.

If an Executive Committee member has advance knowledge of a period of unavailability extending beyond a week, that member should notify the MMI Project Lead.

5.3 Steering Committee


The Steering Committee list is maintained on the MMI Steering Committee page.

The Steering Committee has diverse representation, to reflect the variety of oceanographic and technical experience and interest in the MMI community.

The Steering Committee is relatively large, to capture a breadth of expertise and representation, and allow representative decisions when many members of the committee may not be available.


The roles of the Steering Committee include:

  • providing overall guidance to the project
  • reviewing the status of the project (e.g.., by receiving monthly updates from the technical team)
  • serving on the Technical Team, as appropriate (see below)
  • recommending future directions for the project
  • responding to information requests (e.g., providing or finding information about other metadata initiatives)
  • serving as liaisons to the broader community.

The Steering Committee meets monthly. Meetings may be held via telecon or in person. A monthly Steering Committee may be delayed by up to two weeks at the request of the MMI Project Lead, but may only be cancelled with the consent of the members of the Steering Committee.

Steering Committee meetings must be announced at least 1 week in advance of the meeting. The agenda shall be published at least 2 days in advance of the meeting for decisions of that meeting to be considered final.

The Steering Committee must approve:

  • these Terms of Reference;
  • changes to Steering Committee, Executive Committtee, Science Advisory Panel, and Technical Advisory Team membership. and
  • policies applying to MMI membership and the policies and conditions on use of the MMI web site which can result in cancellation of a person's membership on the site.

Steering Committee members are expected to provide timely responses to requests initiated by the MMI Project Lead or his or her designee(s). Lack of a timely response shall be construed as acceptance of the decisions taken by the rest of the Steering Committee.

If a Steering Committee member has advance knowledge of a period of unavailability extending beyond two weeks, that member should notify the MMI Project Lead.

Decision-Making Process

Discussions of the Executive and Steering Committees will be documented in minutes, which are to be made publicly viewable once approved.

Deliberations of the Executive and Steering Committees will follow consensus decision-making principles as much as possible (reference Wikipedia et cetera). However, upon the request of any Steering Committee member, Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised will be followed.

Decisions of the Executive and Steering Committees will be by consensus whenever possible. Due to the size of the committee, full consensus may not be possible. When consensus is not reached, a vote of the attending or participating members of the committee will determine the outcome. When the Steering Committee must vote on an issue, each institution may only have one vote, regardless of its number of representatives.

In case of conflict within an institution, the deciding vote is cast according to the following priority (first has highest priority): most recently a PI on a winning MMI proposal; senior member of the institution; longest membership on an MMI policy-making committee.

6. Implementing and Advisory Bodies

6.1. Technical Lead


The MMI Technical Lead is Carlos Rueda. The Technical Lead is a paid staff member of MMI.


The MMI Technical Lead implements contributions to the MMI project, according to the direction of the MMI Project Lead and needs of the project, in collaboration with the MMI Technical Team.

The MMI Technical Lead coordinates activities of the MMI Technical Team, in consultation with the MMI Project Lead.

The MMI Technical Lead serves as the primary technical liaison for MMI activities and directions.

6.2. Technical Team


The MMI Technical Team consists of the following members:

  • The MMI Technical Lead
  • The technical personnel regularly compensated from MMI funding
  • Any other regular technical contributors so designated by the MMI Technical Lead or MMI Project Lead.


The MMI Technical Team assists and advises the MMI Technical Lead in fulfilling the MMI mission. The team's work is guided and monitored by the MMI Technical Lead, and by the MMI Project Lead as needed.

MMI Technical Team members are expected to spend at least 1 to 2 hours (average) per week working on MMI matters.

Please refer to the Technical Team documents for additional information on Technical Team activities.

6.3. Science Advisory Panel


Potential members of the Science Advisory Panel may be nominated by the Steering Committee or MMI membership. Membership is selected by the MMI Project Lead and approved by the Steering Committee. Members are published marine scientists.


This panel advises MMI on scientific needs for metadata solutions and applications to data interoperability. The panel reviews MMI's presence (e.g., web pages), guidance, use cases, products, and overall direction, with an eye toward ensuring appropriate direction for the work.

Science Advisory Panel meetings may be organized by the MMI Project Lead, the Steering Committee, or both, with the support of the MMI staff and Technical Team.

The Science Advisory Panel recommendations are provided to the Steering Committee and the MMI Project Lead.

The Science Advisory Panel meets approximately yearly, but not more often than twice yearly.

6.4. Technical Advisory Team


Potential members of the Technical Advisory Team may be nominated by the Steering Committee or MMI membership. Membership on the Panel is selected by the MMI Project Lead and approved by the Technical Lead and Steering Committee. Members are published marine scientists.

The Technical Advisory Team is composed of technical leaders from other data management and metadata-focused organizations.


The Technical Advisory Team:

  • reviews MMI products, services, and directions to ensure maximum interoperability and collaborative effect is achieved,
  • identifies and evaluates opportunities for collaboration with other marine data management efforts and provides MMI with information about those activities,
  • works with MMI on specific projects to ensure their functionality and relevance to the larger community.

Technical Advisory Team meetings may be organized by the MMI Project Lead, the Technical Lead, or both, with the support of the MMI staff, Technical Team, and Steering Committee.

The Technical Advisory Team recommendations are provided to the Steering Committee and the MMI Project Lead.

The Technical Advisory Team meets approximately yearly in person, and possibly on other occasions via remote presence. Its members may be asked to contribute specific recommendations, either collectively or individually, throughout the year; such requests will be kept as non-intrusive as possible.