Metadata Principles

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The following best-practice principles for proper metadata solutions have been provided by Traugott:

  • Define the purpose and scope of the metadata solution
  • It is important to formulate detailed requirements and usage scenarios motivating the metadata solutions
  • There should be an explicit model for described entities (also called domain model or data model), independent from a given implementation of a system. It may be based upon a common/community domain model
  • Namespaces, vocabularies and persistent resource identifiers must be established and maintained
  • The solution should be documented as an Application Profile according to the CEN standard (CEN/ISSS CWA14855)
    • Select terms from external namespaces if suitable ones exist
    • Define other terms needed in local namespaces, specific for the application profile
    • The term definitions need to be of highest quality and precision
    • Use, declare and, if necessary, create syntax and vocabulary encoding schemes
    • Define other attributes, such as language
  • Usage guidelines are needed to support coherent metadata practice
  • A machine-readable formal representation of the constraints of the Application Profile, a Description Set Profile (DSP), based on DCAM, might assist in regulating what descriptions may occur, what properties may be used in RDF statements and in what ways a value may be identified/represented. It can be used for configuring databases and editing tools etc.
  • The format should follow Dublin Core syntax/encoding guidelines and data formats, incl. the evolving versions for the DCAM
  • Test usage and evaluation, both reg. creation and retrieval, is needed for iterative design improvements
  • The solution should be submitted to the KIM working group for advice and future certification (applies to services in the German speaking countries)
  • Metadata creation tools, quality assurance and enhancement tools are necessary
  • It must be made possible to access the metadata via standardised protocols such as OAI-PMH


Terms used:

  • Data model
  • Content Model
  • Profile / Metadata Profile
  • Application Profile
    "In DCMI usage, an application profile is a declaration of the metadata terms an organization, information resource, application, or user community uses in its metadata. In a broader sense, it includes the set of metadata elements, policies, and guidelines defined for a particular application or implementation." see
  • Metadata set
  • Metadata specification
    In eSciDoc, the metadata specification lists the elements used
  • Elements - values
  • Complex elements
  • Encoding schemas
  • Label vs. Name
    Label is the string designed for human readers and displayed on service interface.
    Name is an unique token assigned for internationally standardised machine handling and used in the machine-readable metadata code.
  • Item; item types etc.