What is Metadata?

Metadata is often described as «data about data».

You can think of metadata as like the keywords of a paper – it is there to help people find your data and quickly decide if it is what they need. If you want people to find, reuse and cite your work, it is worth your while making good metadata in order to ‘sell’ your data.

What the researcher needs to do?

Ensure metadata is provided with your dataset so that the data are easier to discover, understand and reuse. Recording metadata is part of the data documentation process.

What the repository will do?

Most repositories will collect additional standard metadata as part of the data submission process, some of these you will need to supply when you deposit your data (e.g., by filling in a form) and some will be automatically generated by the repository.

Fast guide Metadata 

For a basic overview of metadata as it applies to research data, check out the Fast Guide Metadata by EPFL Library.


For more information and assistance, contact Documentation Centre and Library.


What is Metadata? (The Australian National University). https://libguides.anu.edu.au/c.php?g=881167&p=6334236

Sharing your data (University of Cambridge). https://www.data.cam.ac.uk/data-management-guide/sharing-your-data#Licensing%20a%20dataset

Varrato, Francesco, Milfort, Frank, Borel, Alain, & Gabella, Chiara. (2023). EPFL Library Research Data Management Fastguides (Version v3). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7551315

Last updated: 29/08/2023