23 May 2016

Research Data Things 11/23 - What's My Metadata Schema?

Getting Started

Unfortunately, in the rush to publish the metadata for datasets are often an afterthought. Until now, the focus has always been on the article being published. Data sharing and providing good metadata is still an unknown for many so is often done last-minute or after the fact (oh that's right I'm obliged to share my data, better bung it together and get it in the repository).

Education and familiarity will help, but so too will experiencing the challenge of trying to use someone else's metadata encourage researchers to think more carefully about their own data. Many academic libraries now provide consulting services on research data management, curation and metadata. Promotion of these services is important in getting the message out.

Another inhibiting factor may be the constraints of turnkey institutional repository systems which do not provide fully customisable metadata fields. Libraries may be waiting on the provider's support to address missing fields. The challenge for the repository provider is that they are offering a solution that needs to fit multiple institutions/disciplines where the metadata has different flavours. Numerous schema exist and in most institutions there are numerous disciplines.

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Assessing Data Documentation Initiative

Who developed the standard? - DDI Alliance is a membership organisation focused solely on DDI. It includes members across various types of institutions.

Who has implemented and currently uses the standard? - Institutions from all around the world have adopted DDI. This map has been developed to find out who is using the standard.

Who currently maintains or sponsors the standard? -- The DDI Alliance has a committee responsible for development/maintenance. Working groups and discussion lists for members provide input to the committee.

Where is this standard in the development process? -- This is categorised as "Existing".

The standard is available for public use, has been widely adopted, and is being maintained. The DDI Alliance publishes a history of milestones in the development of the standard. Initial work commenced in 1995 with the first version being published in 2000.

What is the purpose of this standard? -- This standard is used for describing statistical and social science data to facilitate interpretation and understanding by both humans and computers. It describes data that result from observational methods in the social, behavioral, economic, and health sciences.

What resources are available for implementation? -- The DDI website provides a list with finding aid of tools that support the use of DDI. These include editors, indexing, crosswalks and software to convert from particular applications such as SPSS.

Challenge Me

Option 2 seemed too easy since I have worked with xml files for years including one yucky ANZAC day holiday where I had to edit an ERA submission file due to a business rule fault in the research data system we were using.

So... Option 1. Using ANZmet lite.

  • First problem was an error message about ANZmet not being able to reach a website. 
  • No tip for the additional (optional) citation field 
  • No advice on which order to enter the author's name eg. Lastname, Firstname 

It made it relatively easy to produce a valid record.