On Day II of the JISC MRD Programme 2011-13 launch event in Nottingham, last Dec 2nd, specific subject-based discussion sessions were held among the different JISCMRD02 Projects for research data management in order to promote synergies and joint work on common issues. This is a brief report on the outcomes of such discussions at the parallel session on metadata - some other were simultaneously held for Institutional, Life Sciences, Engineering or Archaeology MRD projects, whose discussions have been reported elsewhere (and there are also other posts summarizing talks for this one too).
It was really hard for some of us to pick a single of those groups, since many projects actually belonged to several strands (some lucky ones had also two representatives at the event, it should be noted). The session on metadata was attended, among others, by:
- Anna Clements (U St Andrews)
- Simon Kerridge (U Sunderland)
- Kevin Ginty (U Sunderland)
- Charlotte Pascoe (British Atmospheric Data Centre)
- Pablo de Castro (SONEX Workgroup)
- Simon Hodson (JISC MRD Programme manager)
- David Shotton (U Oxford)
- Louise Corti (UK Data Archive)
- Marco Fabiani (Queen Mary U London)
Metadata standards were repeatedly discussed along the session - there was a joint (and unsuccessful) attempt to recall whether anyone knew about a metadata standard registry available for different disciplines. Representatives from CERIF4Datasets Project, University of Sunderland, mentioned they were using the MEDIN metadata standard for their work in marine sciences data management. The Core Scientific Metadata Model (CSMD) standard, developed at STFC for the I2S2 Project was also mentioned as an interesting approach to multi-disciplinary metadata standard for structural sciences such as Chemistry, Materials Sciences, Earth Sciences or Biochemistry. Finally, the PIMMS Project (BADC/U Reading), mentioned Metafor as a Climate Science metadata standard and their goal of using PIMMS software tool to generate CIM-based content.
At some point the idea catched up that metadata standards should perhaps be mandated by publishers in order to harmonise discipline-specific data description procedures. Publishers are actually involved in several very successful international RDM projects, such as Dryad, but -save for REWARD- are significantly missing in JISCMRD02 projects.
Having previously developed the Semantic Publishing and Referencing (SPAR) Ontologies, David Shotton said he was now working on their extension to CERIF-based metadata description of datasets, which is closely linked to dataset CERIFication work being carried out at the CERIF4Datasets Project.
The following actions were proposed for improving the chances of metadata standard harmonisation - hence enhancing dataset discoverability:
- Trying to locate (or otherwise collect) an already existing registry of metadata standards for different disciplines, in order to offer researchers from a given discipline an already tested metadata schema they can re-use,
- Mapping metadata standards to each other aiming to produce a minimum-sufficient-information metadata set that may be widely applicable accross disciplines,
- Taking steps towards organising a workshop in order to have metadata issues discussed among relevant stakeholders. ANDS Metadata Workshop in 2010 might be a potential source of inspiration for this with all those discipline-based approaches to metadata standards. Proposed dates for this Metadata WS were spring-summer 2012.
Finally, there was a wrap-up by different subject-based project groups which showed strong possibilites for a more stable cooperation among them (Biomedical/Healthcare projects even discussed the possibiity of building a common wiki). Some cooperation frameworks (googlegroups, mailing lists) might be set for promoting this disciplinar trans-project collaboration. Regarding the metadata strand, it should be noted it was also an issue in discussions held at most subject-specific workgroups, so it would potentially allow contributions from all of them.