Metadata: The Spirit of Research Data Management?


Alex Ball (2017), ‘Metadata: The Spirit of Research Data Management?’, in Research Infrastructures in Social Sciences and Humanities: their potential and best practices in Italy, University of Milan-Bicocca.

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To emphasise the importance of data, it has been described as the new oil, the new water, even the new light. But what is not so well understood is the vital role that metadata plays in unlocking the value of data. It is metadata that allows datasets to be discovered, accessed, understood, assessed, and ultimately reused in new studies. It is key to demonstrating the integrity of research, instrumental in increasing its impact, and a cornerstone of interoperability. If the full potential of data is to be realised, giving it global and long-standing significance, researchers must collect appropriate metadata and data archives must curate and syndicate it according to established standards. This means research institutions need to participate in wider research data infrastructures; encourage the use of standards and profiles wherever possible; and above all support their researchers with training, tools and guidance.


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