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Metadata standards

Use an established metadata standard when you apply a metadata description to research data. There are several different standards to choose from, and some standards are more suitable for a research domain than others. Make sure to use a standard that is widely accepted within your field of research in order to fulfil the FAIR principles.

What is a metadata standard?

A metadata standard is a set structure for combining various types of metadata, regulating how it should be used. Usually, the standard is developed in a communal context as a response to a need for a common way to describe a specific type of contents or data. For example, a standard for describing research data and publications within a specific field of research.

Using a metadata standard is a way to make sure that the metadata description will be readable and understandable for both human and machine. It is also intrinsic to fulfilling the principles for making data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).


The FAIR data principles (Swedish National Data Service)

Using a metadata standard

A metadata standard is a useful tool for composing a comprehensive metadata description. The standard contains information on how to:

  • follow a consistent structure in order to make data searchable and possible to share
  • know what kind of information different elements or parts of metadata are expected to hold within a specific domain of research, as well as the proper way to make use of them within the relevant field of research
  • describe the premises and the origin of data in a way that is controlled, understood and agreed upon
  • describe technical processes in a controlled and predictable manner
  • make use of controlled vocabularies, terminologies and ontologies
  • make use of the key-codes and authority records used in the field of research

Start early

A research project can benefit from the use of proper metadata standards even early on in the process. The metadata standards are adapted to be used in various digital formats, for example in databases and in XML formats. Even if such tools are not used in a research project, the metadata standard can be used as a support for organising your data.

Using a metadata standard during an ongoing project is a way to ensure that the data management is structured and possible to review during the project. It is also a sound preparation for the task of preserving and making data accessible at the finishing stages of the project, or in the intermediate stages when data is solidified between research foci. Upholding such a structure is a way for researchers to make sure that their data is easily at hand and reusable, if needed.

To find a suitable metadata standard

When you submit metadata to the Swedish National Data Service (SND), their service Doris (SND Data Organisation and Information System) contains pre-defined fields for metadata. These fields are based on the metadata standard Data documentation initiative (DDI):

The Data documentation initiative (DDI)

Read more about using SND and DORIS to describe and make available research data: 
Describe and share data (SND)

Log in to "My pages" at SND in order to submit data:
Log in (SND)

Find information about the metadata standard used in DORIS and how it relates to requirements from international research data infrastructures:
How to describe research data (SND)

Questions about research data registration and metadata? The university library and SND are available for consultation to researchers and others who work with research data in affiliation with Umeå university.

Contact and support for research data

Other metadata standards

A selection of resources for finding a metadata standard suitable for a specific field of research:

  • The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) directory of metadata standards:
    Disciplinary metadata (DCC)
  • The Metadata Working Group of the Research Data Alliance (RDA):
    RDA Metadata Directory
  • Dublin Core is a well-established metadata standard that is suitable for most research disciplines. It is also designed to support metadata descriptions of multidisciplinary resources:
    Dublin Core
Latest update: 2024-05-03