Metadata and Data Documentation
University of Michigan Library

Metadata and Data Documentation

Metadata and Data Documentation

Researchers in nearly every domain of the campus community are producing, manipulating, or analyzing data and digital objects as part of their research. With this increase in data production and use, researchers have identified a need to describe their data in order to make the data discoverable in repositories, understandable in context, and reusable by other researchers. There are also new grant requirements from federal funding agencies which require that datasets produced by or used in research be deposited and made accessible.

This guide provides a basic introduction to tools, resources, standards, and support for metadata and data documentation. For additional information, or to schedule a consultation on metadata and data documentation for your research, contact Matt Carruthers, Metadata Projects Librarian, University of Michigan Library.

What is Metadata and Why Does it Matter?

Metadata describes the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data. Metadata is generally standardized, structured information that facilitates functions associated with data, such as:

  1. Organizing and managing data
  2. Preserving data for the long-term
  3. Ensuring that data can be indexed and discovered in a data repository
  4. Retaining the context around which the data was captured or created, which is vital in facilitating comprehension and reuse of the data by other researchers