Research Data Management: Metadata Schemas and Examples

What is the best metadata for my data?

You may not like this answer, but there is no one size fits all for metadata.  The metadata that would best describe your data depends on the nature of your data.  However, due to the fact that specialised systems for description (know as schemas) take time and expertise to implement, there are some generalised schemas that have been developed.  These schemas include what are considered essential elements to describe any data. 

Some disciplines have their own metadata schema. Each will have their own specified elements and structure:

Discipline Metadata standard

Dublin Core (DC)

Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS)

Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)


Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)

Visual Resources Association (VRA Core)

Astronomy Astronomy Visualization Metadata (AVM)
Biology Darwin Core
Ecology Ecological Metadata Language (EML)
Geographic Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)
Social sciences Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)


More resources


We would like to acknowledge the contribution made by Curtin University Library to this page.