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Research Data Management Toolkit: Metadata Standards

Best practices in Research Data Management promote research integrity and collaborative opportunities. A Data Management Plan ensures data security, accessibility and validation of results.

Metadata Standards

Metadata is data that describes data. It is the documentation that accompanies the research data which makes it discoverable and usable over time. Metadata standards exist to provide standardised descriptions. Through the use of metadata standards such as Dublin Core, computer software is then able to recall and combine metadata from several sources.

Metadata assists with research data management and scholarly publishing in the following ways:

  • discoverability of data;
  • data identification;
  • data association with publications and related datasets; and
  • quality assurance and validation of data.

UWA’s Research Data Management Plan is available to researchers for download to aid in the creation of metadata descriptions for their research data.

Metadata should include an explanatory description of the research data incorporating:

Discipline Specific Metadata Standards

Standards include:


Metadata Standard

Humanities Data

Geospatial Data

Social Sciences Data

Scientific Data

  • CCLRC Scientific Data Model



The UWA Website Office Metadata Standards Group's Guidelines to Metadata is a useful resource for researchers.

Dublin Core

The most commonly used descriptive standard is Dublin Core as it is flexible across disciplines and data formats (including non-digital). It includes elements such as Title, Creator, Subject, Date and Type.

The UWA Profiles and Research Repository uses Dublin Core and MARC as the metadata standard.


The Registry Interchange Format – Collections and Services (RIF-CS) schema is used to describe collections, parties, activities and services related to research data collections.  

UWA uses the RIF-CS schema to describe local research data collections which are then harvested into Research Data Australia (RDA).

For more information about RIF-CS, please refer to the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) website.


An identifier is a label or reference number given to a data object and is integral to research data documentation and metadata. It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that the location information of the research data is kept current.

Identifiers should be both persistent and unique.

A unique identifier - such as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) - which is not persistent may result in a broken link if the dataset is relocated.

Persistent identifiers (PIDs) are kept current or redirected over specified time periods by the host. Digital Object Identifiers (DOI), Persistent Uniform Resource Locators (PURLs) or the Handle System can embed an identifier into the URL to also ensure the PID is kept up to date.

The Australian Nationa Data Service's (ANDS) guide on Persistent Identifiers awareness is a useful resource for researchers.