Why are there HINFO data sets

E. Böker / CC BY 4.0

The publication of research data only makes sense if it is available in an interpretable form. Well thought-out and documented metadata therefore play a central role in finding, searching through and using research data. In order to keep collected research data usable for a longer period of time and for different people, it must be described with standardized metadata. These standards should be used widely within a scientific community or by providers of research data to ensure interpretability and automatic usability.

Which metadata have to be differentiated?

It always applies to metadata that they contain structured information about other data and their characteristics. To a certain extent, this is independent data, although it is often stored together with the data to be written.

Basically, it makes sense to clearly differentiate between two types of metadata: bibliographical or administrative data and content-descriptive or technical data. The former provide information on how to manage the data, while the latter describe individual aspects or data sets in more detail or provide additional information on these. Content-describing metadata are structured very differently, depending on the discipline. The bibliographic metadata, on the other hand, provides information on the creation of the totality of the data, which has a more general nature and is much less community-specific.

Metadata must be understood by machines or computers so that they can develop their full effect, for example in the semantic web. In the meantime, metadata are often saved as XML or in the format of another markup language.

Metadata Standards - Choose the Right One for Every Purpose

Because there are different types of metadata, different metadata standards also exist. Metadata can be assigned to a wide variety of content depending on your interests. The name of the author of the research data can also be part of the metadata, as can, for example, an exact grammatical definition of an individual word in a text. Each scientific community develops its own required standards that are adapted to the needs of certain subjects or specialist groups.

Example standards from various specialist areas

The P5 guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) are suitable for annotating and commenting on texts of all kinds.

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DDI (Data Documentation Initiative) is an open metadata standard that is being further developed by an initiative of the same name. It is used to describe social and economic data.

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The Conventions for Climate and Forecast Metadata are used for a comprehensive and uniform description of weather data.

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NeXus is an international standard developed by scientists to simplify the exchange of data about neutrons, muons and X-rays for analysis and visualization.

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Genome Metadata is a standard for describing individual genomes.

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Further information



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