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Metadata Made Easy - Develop and Use Domain Specific Metadata Schemes by following the dmdScheme Approach
  • Rainer Krug,
  • Owen Petchey
Rainer Krug
University of Zurich Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Author Profile
Owen Petchey
University of Zurich Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Author Profile


1. Metadata plays an essential role in the long term preservation, reuse, and interoperability of data. Nevertheless, creating useful metadata can be sufficiently difficult and weakly-enough incentivised that many datasets may be accompanied by little or no metadata. One key challenge is, therefore, how to make metadata creation easier and more valuable. We present a solution that involves creating domain specific metadata schemes that are as complex as necessary and as simple as possible. These goals are achieved by co-development between a metadata expert and the researchers (i.e. the data creators). The final product is a bespoke metadata scheme into which researchers can enter information (and validate it) via the simplest of interfaces: a web browser application and a spreadsheet. 2.We provide the R package [‘dmdScheme‘](https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=dmdScheme) [@Krug2019] for creating a template domain specific scheme. We describe how to create a domain specific scheme from this template, including the iterative co-development process, and the simple methods for using the scheme, and simple methods for quality assessment, improvement, and validation. 3.The process of developing a metadata scheme following the outlined approach was successful, resulting in a metadata scheme which is used for the data generated in our research group. The validation quickly identifies forgotten metadata, as well as inconsistent metadata, therefore improving the quality of the metadata. Multiple output formats are available, including XML. 4. Making the provision of metadata easier while also ensuring high quality must be a priority for data curation initiatives. We show how both objectives are achieved by very close collaboration between metadata experts and researchers to create domain specific schemes. A near-future priority is to provide methods to interface domain specific schemes with general metadata schemes, such as the Ecological Metadata Language, to increase interoperability.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

09 Feb 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
11 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
11 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
15 Feb 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
28 Mar 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
13 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
21 Apr 20211st Revision Received
23 Apr 2021Submission Checks Completed
23 Apr 2021Assigned to Editor
23 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 May 2021Editorial Decision: Accept