status: Recognised & Endorsed

Chair (s): Mingfang Wu, Sarala Wimalaratne, Adam Shepherd, Leyla Jael Castro

Group Email: [group_email]

Secretariat Liaison: [field_secretariat_liaison]



The wide use of to add structured metadata in web pages for use by  commercial search engines has attracted the attention of the data management community as a possible mechanism to leverage the robust commercial search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. to facilitate discovery and access to scientific data. Various projects have been exploring this approach, including the US NSF EarthCube p418 projectGoogle's Dataset Recommendations, BioSchemas, Force11 DCIP, Research Data AustraliaDataCiteHarvard Dataverse,  NASA’s Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) Infrastructure, EOSCpilot,  etc.  Since has largely been driven by commercial business use cases, and a loosely governed process for adding and defining resource type, property and vocabulary for research domain, there are gaps and deficiencies  that make its application for research data problematic.



Since P11, the RDA Data Discovery Paradigms IG started the task force "Using for research data discovery". The group has organised sessions at RDA plenaries and online calls to discuss how we research community come together to embrace the advantages of discovering data via web search engines, meanwhile to address gaps and deficiencies. There is a proposal to form a RDA Working Group with a focused scope and set of well-defined priorities/objectives.


The objectives of this work group are twofold:

  1. to identify and bridge gaps in existing schemas commonly used for research data, by bringing together communities who are working with such vocabularies to document research data and related resources;
  2. to provide guidelines for those communities whose needs are not addressed by existing metadata schema such as, and provide guidelines on proposing extensions.

To align with the above objectives, we instrumented a survey on current practices in using schemas to describe research datasets. The survey is still open, your participation is more than welcome. (The survey was developed by the DDP IG TF, which led to the formation of this WG.)


The planned outputs will include:

  1. A generic ‘conceptual data model’ with essential types and properties for research data discovery over the web. The model will be built on,,, DCAT, DDI-DISCO and SSN schemas from some representative research domains, and data discovery use cases. A research domain can map their schema to the conceptual model when they publish data to the web or exchange metadata between data portals/repositories.

  2. A guideline, illustrated with common patterns, of common patterns for publishing metadata landing pages with structured data markups; and a guideline of how to customise the research schemas for target domains with examples. 

  3. Toolings for making the implementation easier if resources are available. This could include collecting and cataloguing tools that generate, validate and parse & DCAT markup, etc.

Living documents:

Research Metadata Schemas WG (This is the directory for all documents prepared by this WG, including meeting notes.)

In particular, the following three documents are for the WG outputs:

  • Crosswalks (As dated on 15 May 2020, there are 12 crosswalks from 12 schemas to
  • Best practice guides
  • Tooling (collecting tools for supporting the structured data publishing process, e.g. tools that generate, validate, crawling  search structured data)

Members are more than welcome to contribute to the above three ongoing documents.  This output folder  has all working in progress documents for the outputs.


The WG's Wiki Index


Meeting schedule:

The group meeting in 2022 (and onward) is on third Wednesday in even months. A meeting reminder will be sent to the group about 2 days before each meeting.

If you are unable to join, you can still add your thoughts to this document with rolling agendas and notes.





Guidelines for publishing structured metadata on the Web

by Mingfang Wu

The FAIR principles refer frequently to metadata as a key enabler in discoverability, but also having a major role in accessibility and reusability. Publishing structured metadata on the web can provide a simple and efficient means to increase the FAIRness of research resources: it exposes metadata contained in web pages through a formal mechanism, allowing systematic collection and processing by web-based crawlers.

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Guidelines for publishing structured metadata on the Web (v2.0 20210416)

by Mingfang Wu

This is the draft version of the final report, post it here for group members' feedback before submit it and go through the RDA process.

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