Metadata standard

Last updated on 14 May 2016

A metadata standard is a requirement which is intended to establish a common understanding of the meaning or semantics of the data, to ensure correct and proper use and interpretation of the data by its owners and users. To achieve this common understanding, a number of characteristics, or attributes of the data have to be defined, also known as metadata.[1]


Metadata is often defined as data about data.[2][3][4] It is “structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use or manage an information resource”, especially in a distributed network environment like for example the internet or an organization.[5] A good example of metadata is the cataloging system found in libraries, which records for example the author, title, subject, and location on the shelf of a resource. Another is software system knowledge extraction of software objects such as data flows, control flows, call maps, architectures, business rules, business terms, and database schemas.

Metadata is usually categorized in three types:[6][7][2]

  • Descriptive metadata describes an information resource for identification and retrieval through elements such as title, author, and abstract.
  • Structural metadata documents relationships within and among objects through elements such as links to other components (e.g., how pages are put together to form chapters).
  • Administrative metadata helps to manage information resources through elements such as version number, archiving date, and other technical information for purposes of file management, rights management and preservation.

Available metadata standards

Metadata elements grouped into sets designed for a specific purpose, e.g., for a specific domain or a particular type of information resource, are called metadata schemes. For every element the name and the semantics (the meaning of the element) are specified. Content rules (how content must be formulated), representation rules (e.g., capitalization rules), and allowed element values (e.g., from a controlled vocabulary) can be specified optionally. Some schemes also specify in which syntax the elements must be encoded, in contrast to syntax independent schemes. Many current schemes use Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) or XML to specify their syntax. Metadata schemes that are developed and maintained by standard organizations (such as ISO) or organizations that have taken on such responsibility (such as the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative) are called metadata standards.

Many different metadata schemes are being developed as standards across disciplines, such as library science, education, archiving, e-commerce, and arts. In the table below, an overview of available metadata standards is given.

Name Focus Description
DDI Archiving and Social Science The Data Documentation Initiative is an international effort to establish a standard for technical documentation describing social science data. A membership-based Alliance is developing the DDI specification, which is written in XML.
EBUCore The EBUCore metadata set for audiovisual content EBUCore is a set of descriptive and technical metadata based on the Dublin Core and adapted to media. EBUCore is the flagship metadata specification of EBU [1], the largest professional association of broadcasters around the world. It is developed and maintained by EBU's Technical Department [2]. EBU has a long history in the definition of metadata solutions for broadcasters [3]. EBUCore is largely used as shown is this report [4]. EBUCore is registered in SMPTE. It is also available in RDF [5] and the documentation from [6].
EBU CCDM The EBU Class Conceptual Data Model - CCDM 'The EBU Class Conceptual Data Model (CCDM) is an ontology defining a basic set of Classes and properties as a common vocabulary to describe programmes in their different phases of creation from commissioning to delivery. CCDM is a common framework and users are invited to further enrich the model with Classes and properties fitting more specifically their needs.
FOAF Friend of a Friend (FOAF) The Friend of a Friend (FOAF) project is about creating a Web of machine-readable homepages describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do.
EAD Archiving Encoded Archival Description - a standard for encoding archival finding aids using XML in archival and manuscript repositories.
CDWA Arts Categories for the Description of Works of Art is a conceptual framework for describing and accessing information about works of art, architecture, and other material culture.
VRA Core Arts Visual Resources Association – the standard provides a categorical organization for the description of works of visual culture as well as the images that document them.
Darwin Core Biology The Darwin Core is a metadata specification for information about the geographic occurrence of species and the existence of specimens in collections.
ONIX Book industry Online Information Exchange - international standard for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form.
CWM Data warehousing The main purpose of the Common Warehouse Metamodel is to enable easy interchange of warehouse and business intelligence metadata in distributed heterogeneous environments.
EML Ecology Ecological Metadata Language is a specification developed for the ecology discipline.
IEEE LOM Education Learning Objects Metadata - specifies the syntax and semantics of Learning Object Metadata.
CSDGM Geographic data Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata maintained by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).
ISO 19115 Geographic data The ISO 19115:2003 Geographic information -- Metadata standard defines how to describe geographical information and associated services, including contents, spatial-temporal purchases, data quality, access and rights to use. It is maintained by the ISO/TC 211 committee.
e-GMS Government The e-Government Metadata Standard (E-GMS) defines the metadata elements for information resources to ensure maximum consistency of metadata across public sector organizations in the UK.
GILS Government/ Organizations The Global Information Locator Service defines an open, low-cost, and scalable standard so that governments, companies, or other organizations can help searchers find information.
TEI Humanities, social sciences and linguistics Text Encoding Initiative - a standard for the representation of texts in digital form, chiefly in the humanities, social sciences and linguistics.
NISO MIX Images Z39.87 Data dictionary - technical metadata for digital still images (MIX) - NISO Metadata for Images in XML is an XML schema for a set of technical data elements required to manage digital image collections.
<indecs> Intellectual property Indecs Content Model - Interoperability of Data in E-Commerce Systems addresses the need to put different creation identifiers and metadata into a framework to support the management of intellectual property rights.
MARC Librarianship MARC - MAchine Readable Cataloging - standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form.
METS Librarianship Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard - an XML schema for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library.
MODS Librarianship Metadata Object Description Schema - is a schema for a bibliographic element set that may be used for a variety of purposes, and particularly for library applications.
XOBIS Librarianship XML Organic Bibliographic Information Schema - a XML schema for modeling MARC data.
PBCore Media PBCore is a Metadata & Cataloging Resource for Public Broadcasters & Associated Communities
MPEG-7 Multimedia The Multimedia Content Description Interface MPEG-7 is an ISO/IEC standard and specifies a set of descriptors to describe various types of multimedia information and is developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group.
MEI Music notation Music Encoding Initiative is a community-driven effort to create a commonly accepted, digital, symbolic representation of music notation documents.
Dublin Core Networked resources Dublin Core - interoperable online metadata standard focused on networked resources.
DOI Networked resources Digital Object Identifier - provides a system for the identification and hence management of information ("content") on digital networks, providing persistence and semantic interoperability.
ISO/IEC 11179[8] Organizations ISO/IEC 11179 Standard that describes the metadata and activities needed to manage data elements in a registry to create a common understanding of data across organizational elements and between organizations.
ISO/IEC 19506[9] Software Systems ISO/IEC 19506 Standard called Knowledge Discovery Metamodel is an ontology for describing software systems. The standard provides both a detailed ontology and common data format for representing granular software objects and their relationships enabling the extractions such as data flows, control flows, call maps, architecture, database schemas, business rules/terms and the derivation of business processes. Used primarily for legacy and existing systems security, compliance and modernization.
ISO 23081[10] Records management ISO 23081 - three-part technical specification defining metadata needed to manage records. Part 1 addresses principles, part 2 addresses conceptual and implementation issues, and part 3 outlines a self-assessment method.
MoReq2010 Records management MoReq2010 - A specification describing the MOdel REQuirements for the management of electronic records.
DIF Scientific data sets Directory Interchange Format - a descriptive and standardized format for exchanging information about scientific data sets.
RDF Web resources General method for conceptual description or modeling of information that is implemented in web resources, using a variety of syntax formats.
MDDL Financial market The (Financial) Market Data Definition Language (MDDL) has been developed by the Financial Information Services Division (FISD) of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). MDDL is an extensible Markup Language (XML) derived specification, which facilitates the interchange of information about financial instruments used throughout the world financial markets. MDDL helps in mapping all market data into a common language and structure to ease the interchange and processing of multiple complex data sets.
NIEM Law enforcement; Social services; Enterprise resource planning NIEM—the National Information Exchange Model—is a community-driven, US government-wide, standards-based approach to exchanging information. NIEM's data domains are growing standards developed and maintained by domain communities. These are just some sample domains included or being developed in NIEM: Chem/Bio/Rad/Nuc; Justice; Intelligence; Immigration; International Trade; Biometrics; Emergency Management; Screening; Human Services; Children, Youth, and Family Services; Health; Immigration; Infrastructure Protection; Military Operations; Maritime; Surface Transportation.
SAML Shibboleth has been evolved by Internet2/MACE. It provides a method of distributed authentication and authorization for participating HTTP(S) based applications. Security Assertion Markup Language is an XML-based open standard data format for exchanging authentication and authorization data between parties. A schema example can be found on OASIS (Advancing open standards for the information society)

Sources: [11] [12] [5] [7] [13] [14] [6] [2] [15]

See also


  1. ^ International Organization for Standardization and the International Electromechanical Commission (ISO/IEC) (2003), Information Technology - Metadata Registries - Part 3: Registry metamodel and basic attributes, ISO/IEC 11179-3:2003(E), International Organization for Standardization, Geneva
  2. ^ a b c National Information Standards Organization (NISO) (2007). A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections (PDF) (3rd ed.). Baltimore, USA: NISO. ISBN 978-1-880124-74-1.
  3. ^ Duval, E. (2001), Metadata Standards, What, Who & Why, Journal of Universal Computer Science, 7(7), 591-601, Springer
  4. ^ Cabinet Office (2006), e-Government Metadata Standard Version 3.1, e-Government Unit, London
  5. ^ a b De Carvalho Moura, A.M., Machado Campos, M.L., Barreto, C.M. (1998), A survey on metadata for describing and retrieving Internet resources, World Wide Web, 1, (4), 221-240, Kluwer Academic Publishers
  6. ^ a b Lambe, P. (2007), Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational effectiveness, Chandos Publishing, Oxford
  7. ^ a b National Information Standards Organization (NISO) (2004). Understanding Metadata (PDF). Bethesda, USA: NISO Press. ISBN 978-1-880124-62-8.
  8. ^ ISO/IEC (2003, 2004)
  9. ^ ISO/IEC (2011)
  10. ^ ISO (2004)
  11. ^ Baca, M. (ed) (2002), Metadata Standards, Library Technology Reports, 38, (5), 19-41
  12. ^ Bargemeyer, B.E. and Gillman, D.W. (2000), Metadata Standards and Metadata Registries: An Overview, paper presented at the International Conference on Establishment Surveys II, Buffalo, New York
  13. ^ Taxonomy Warehouse (2007), Standards and Initiatives, visited on 15-04-2008
  14. ^ Wrembel, R. and Bębel, B. (2005), Metadata Management in a Multiversion Data Warehouse, in: Meersman, R., Tari (eds.), CoopIS/DOA/ODBASE 2005, LNCS 3761, 1314 - 1329, Springer-Verlag, Berlin
  15. ^ "Metadata Standards and Organizations". NCSU Libraries. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.

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