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Research Data Management at UK: Data Types & Metadata

Resources and information to help you get started with data management, data preservation, and data sharing

What is Metadata?

Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage data. Metadata is key to ensuring that data will survive and continue to be accessible in the future. Typically, it is helpful to use a defined metadata standard to describe your research.

A few popular standards can be found on this page, but there may be others that are more specific to your research.

Some basic metadata elements include:

  • Title
  • Creator (Principle Investigators)
  • Data created
  • Format
  • Subject
  • Unique identifier
  • Description of the data asset
  • Coverage of the data (spatial or temporal)
  • Publishing organization
  • Rights
  • Funding agency

"readme" Creation Guidelines

Metadata Standards

File Formats

It is important to consider what format will be best for managing, sharing, and preserving your data. How you choose to represent your data is a primary factor in someone else's ability to use your data in the future.

Formats that are likely to be accessible in the future are:

  • Non-proprietary
  • Open, documented standards
  • Commonly used by the research community
  • Use standard character encodings (ASCII, UTF-8)
  • Uncompressed

Examples of preferred format choices include:

Discourage formats include:

  • Word (prefer PDF)
  • Quicktime (prefer MPEG-4)
  • GIF (which uses proprietary compression)