Metadata guidance

Metadata can be described as data about data. It provides information on the who, what, where and when of data. It allows prospective users of the data to assess what the data contains and whether it is appropriate for their needs.

The EIDC requires two types of metadata: discovery metadata and contextual metadata.

1. Discovery metadata

Discovery metadata contains brief information about a dataset that enables potential users to find it using internet search tools and to determine whether the data is suitable for their needs.  It is published in our data catalogue and includes simple information such as:

  • A brief, concise title (please see our guidance)
  • A short description of the dataset
  • A list of those who created the dataset (authors)
  • Brief information about how the data were created/processed

Discovery metadata also contains information about how to access (download) the dataset, the terms and conditions regarding its use and how others using it should acknowledge & cite the data.

When you deposit data with the EIDC we'll ask you to provide this information.

By publishing your data with the EIDC your dataset will be available via our own data catalogue and will also be automatically included in data.gov.uk, the NERC data portal, the EU's INSPIRE geoportal and via search engines such as Google.

The EIDC adheres to a minimum metadata standard which incorporates the UK GEMINI metadata standard and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) metadata quality guidelines 

To see an example of a discovery metadata record and the information it contains, please visit our catalogue.

2. Contextual metadata

Discovery metadata helps you to find data but it doesn't  provide enough information to allow you to use the data.  So we require that data also be accompanied by additional contextual metadata. This provides more detailed information that enables others to properly understand and reuse it.

There is no standard way of recording contextual metadata. We recognise that each dataset is unique and so we're flexible in what metadata we require. However, there are elements that are common to all data - please see Guidance - Supporting Documentation.