status: Recognised & Endorsed

Chair (s): Keith Jeffery, Rebecca Koskela, Alex Ball

Group Email: [group_email]

Secretariat Liaison:



The Metadata IG will concern itself with all aspects of metadata for research data.  In particular, it will attempt to coordinate the efforts of the WGs concerned with metadata to produce a coherent approach to metadata covering metadata modalities of description, restriction, navigation, provenance, preservation and the use of metadata for the purposes discovery, contextualisation, validation, analytical processing, simulation, visualisation and interoperation.  It will also liaise with the other WGs especially Data Foundation and Terminology, PIDs, Standardisation of data categories and codes and Data Citation.  This IG activity relates to data management policies and plans of research organisations and researchers, and to policies and standards of research funders and of research communities which may or may not be official standards.

The metadata IG will organise itself through online meetings and face-to-face meetings of members of the IG present at RDA Plenary events.  It is proposed that – while membership is open to any RDA registered member – key members will be the leaders of the WGs concerned with metadata.  


Metadata Principles - Created and endorsed by all the RDA metadata groups

  1. The only difference between metadata and data is the mode of use
  2. Metadata is not just for data, it is also for users, software services, computing resources
  3. Metadata is not just for description and discovery; it is also for contextualisation (relevance, quality, restrictions (rights, costs)) and for coupling users, software and computing resources to data (to provide a  VRE)
  4. Metadata must be machine-understandable as well as human-understandable for autonomicity (formalism)
  5. Management (meta)data is also relevant (research proposal, funding, project information, research outputs, outcomes, impact…)



Current Activity

The Metadata IG did not hold a session at RDA Plenary 20 in Goteborg, for several reasons:

  • The work of the group had been somewhat disrupted by COVID;
  • Plenaries during COVID had not been well attended;
  • In general, it was observable that requirements had evolved;
  • Technologies had evolved with new initiatives relevant to metadata (as just one example, I-Adopt);

At P20 the co-chairs sat in on sessions of other groups to get an informal ‘landscape picture’ of where we are with metadata. Just about every group with whom we interacted has requirements for metadata, and those requirements increasingly require more complex metadata.  The other good news is that RDA participants seem to realize that ‘library catalog card’ metadata is insufficient and that metadata with complex structures are required to provide the information necessary for applications in each domain of interest.


Regarding technology, the big push is towards graph representations of information structures, particularly knowledge graphs with base entities/objects (such as a dataset or software service)  as vertices/nodes and relationships between them (with rich semantics) as edges/arcs.  Such representations may use triplestores - with RDF triples or utilize relational (or object-relational) stores  - with n-tuples – as infrastructure.


Thus, the co-chairs propose to restart the work on the MIG metadata element set (see: ).  We already have some volunteers to act as editors for some of the elements – please volunteer to join the group around each of the elements in which you have an interest and where you are willing to contribute to the discussions (and if there is currently no leader for that element, contact the co-chairs to offer to do this important coordinating job).  This should be a self-organizing activity (we are all volunteers in this community).  The co-chairs will try to monitor the developing activity and assist as necessary.


Metadata with formal syntax and declared semantics are even more necessary now, to ensure FAIRness but also with the range of application areas requiring such metadata, and especially to ensure that systems increasingly utilizing AI (not just the currently popular large language models but more for data management, analytics, simulation, and visualization) have a basis in formal logic.


  1. Put your name down against metadata elements of interest  (you all have edit access);
  2. If you are willing to lead the activity on an element contact the co-chairs.


Metadata Element Set:

The metadata groups intend to recommend the following metadata element set. Please note that each element needs 'unpacking' to get to something recognizable and actionable by a computer. The comments from reviewers are listed for each element. The folder for all elements is here.


Element URL Volunteer Leader
Unique Identifier (for later use including citation) Nick Juty
Location (URL)  
Keywords (terms)  
Temporal coordinates  
Spatial coordinates  
Originator (organisation(s) / person(s))  
Facility / equipment  
Quality Jane Greenberg
Availability (licence, persistence) Nick Juty
Related publications (white or grey)  
Related software  
Medium / format  


As noted above, these are elements, not single-valued attributes.  Most will have internal syntax (structure) and use of terms that require declared semantics. Also it is not exhaustive; it is expected that particular subject domains will have much greater lists of elements.  This list is intended to be the recommend list of elements that should be provided by all within RDA to

  1. permit discovery,
  2. support contextualisation (assessment of relevance and value) and
  3. facilitate action (interoperation including query and integration).

Use Case Analysis:

The initial use case Analysis was presented in Session 9 joint meeting of all the metadata groups at Plenary 6 in Paris. Below are some revised slides based on the feedback from that meeting and the master use case spreadsheet showing the process.


Metadata Standards Catalog:

The RDA Metadata Standards Catalog Working Group supports an open directory of metadata standards applicable to scientific data that is both human-readable and machine-readable using an API. Additions or updates to the directory can be made here.  




Metadata Standards Directory:

The RDA Metadata Standards Directory Working Group supports a collaborative, open directory of metadata standards applicable to scientific data. Additions or updates to the directory can be made here.  



Adoption Story: Improving the Copernicus Climate Data Store metadata scheme with the RDA metadata standards repository


FAIR guiding principles published in Nature journal

The FAIR Principles address these needs by providing a precise and measurable set of qualities a good data publication should exhibit - qualities that ensure that the data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship have been published.


Past Plenaries

  • 2021-11-03 - 2021-11-11 RDA Plenary 18 Virtual
  • 2021-04-20 - 2021-04-23 RDA Plenary 17 Edinburgh (Virtual)
  • 2020-11-09 - 2020-11-12 RDA Plenary 16 Costa Rica (Virtual)
  • 2019-10-23 - 2019-10-25 RDA Plenary 14 Helsinki
  • 2019-04-02 - 2019-04-04 RDA Plenary 13 Philadelphia
  • 2018-11-05 - 2018-11-08 RDA Plenary 12 Gabarone
  • 2018-03-19 - 2018-03-21 RDA Plenary 11 Berlin
  • 2017-09-19 - 2017-09-21 RDA Plenary 10 Montreal
  • 2017-04-05 - 2017-04-07 RDA Plenary 9 Barcelona
  • 2016-09-15 - 2016-09-17 RDA Plenary 8 Denver
  • 2016-03--01 - 2016-03-03 RDA Plenary 7 Tokyo
  • 2015-09-23 - 2015-09-25 RDA Plenary 6 Paris
  • 2015-08-03- 2015-11-03 RDA Plenary 5 San Diego
  • 2014-09-22 - 2014-09-24  RDA Plenary 4 Amsterdam
  • 2014-03-26 - 2014-03-28  RDA Plenary 3 Dublin
  • 2014-02-24 - 2014-02-25 RDA Europe Munich Meeting




Re-established Reproducibility Interest Group -- endorsed by RDA Council

by Limor Peer

***Apologies for cross-posting*** We are pleased to announce that the Reproducibility Interest Group was endorsed by the RDA Council in July 2023! The Reproducibility IG seeks to advance and enable reproducibility in research based on or producing datasets that require code. This IG follows the broad definition of reproducibility stated by Turing Way in order to provide an inclusive framework for discussions.
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Re: RDA P21 @ IDW 2023 - Notification of Conditional Acceptance

by Rebecca Koskela

The session proposal for Structuring Semantic Information with Respect to Conventional Metadata (Syntactic) Structures has been edited to incorporate the feedback from TAB. The meeting objectives have been expanded and the timings were added to the agenda. Regards, Rebecca, Keith, and Alex On Mon, Jul 17, 2023 at 8:57 AM Secretariat <***@***.***> wrote:
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RDA P21 @ IDW 2023 - Notification of Conditional Acceptance

by Secretariat Group Account

Dear Chairs of the Metadata IG Your RDA P21 session application titled Structuring Semantic Information with Respect to Conventional Metadata (Syntactic) Structures has been conditionally approved, subject to you incorporating the following changes provided in the feedback below: TAB would like you to provide more clarity on the meeting objectives and also indicate the time allocated for talks and discussion.
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[NFDI4Ing] Industrial data models in theory and practice: The CC41 Community Meeting

by Tobias Hamann

Dear RDA members,   Modelling complex information and its interrelations is vital for sustainable data management, but achieving a common understanding and language for these models is challenging. Connecting models from different yet similar use cases, like injection molding and hot rolling, presents interesting opportunities. What parameters impact both processes similarly? Are there advantages to considering both models simultaneously? These questions and more can only be answered by examining multiple models built on a shared foundation.
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RE: May be of interest to the Metadata IG: RDA Reproducibility IG

by Keith Jeffery

Rebecca – Thanks for forwarding. The charter looks good to me, and building on the old group would be both advantageous and sensible. A key aspect of reproducibility is the ability to locate the digital assets required (for the reproduction of the results) which in turn relates to curation, provenance and citation.
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Re: May be of interest to the Metadata IG: RDA Reproducibility IG

by Rebecca Koskela

Limor, Yes, I agree that having the Reproducibility IG re-established is of interest to the Metadata IG. I've copied the other MIG chairs and the members of MIG so they can provide feedback on the proposed charter.
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A Decade of Data: Learning resources minimal metadata application profile; Wednesday 17 May 2023

by Katarzyna Biernacka

Dear all, ‘*Learning resources minimal metadata application profile*’: online, Wednesday 17 May 2023 at 15:00-16:00 UTC. Registration is now open!
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Update from the RDA Metadata Interest Group Co-chairs

by Rebecca Koskela

Dear IG members, The co-chairs decided not to offer a session at RDA Plenary 20 in Goteborg, for several reasons: (a) The work of the group had been somewhat disrupted by COVID; (b) Plenaries during COVID had not been well attended; (c) In general, it was observable that requirements had evolved; (d) Technologies had evolved with new initiatives relevant to metadata (as just one example, I-Adopt); Two of the co-chairs at P20 (Rebecca and Keith) spent their time sitting in
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Invitation to participate in 'A Decade of Data: 10 Years of the RDA' events and activities

by Connie Clare

Good day, The RDA Secretariat would like to invite the Metadata IG to participate in ‘A Decade of Data’: Celebrating 10 Years of the Research Data Alliance’. 10 months to celebrate 10 years of the RDA
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[NFDI4Ing] Join the NFDI4Ing conference 2022 on October 26th and 27th!

by Tobias Hamann

Dear Researchers, For Wednesday and Thursday, October 26 and 27, 2022, we cordially invite you to our annual NFDI4Ing conference. Whether researchers, teachers or industry representatives - all those interested in (research) data management are welcome. Through presentations of research results, informative workshops and demonstrations, as well as case studies, we would like to discuss how data management can be implemented in engineering theory and practice.   
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