Thank you for visiting the “eScience Portal for Librarians.” The “eScience Portal” is no longer being maintained by the University of Massachusetts. This regional resource has been adapted by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and is sustained by the network of regional medical libraries across the country. Please visit for up-to-date data services and resources supported and vetted by the National Libraries of Medicine. We look forward to your continued involvement in the programming in the New England Region and beyond. If you have questions, please contact


Metadata Explained

  • Metadata for Managing Scientific Data (2012) – Overview of data and metadata's role in enabling discovery and access of scientific research data. Discusses challenges in selection and use of metadata schema amidst the "messiness" of the science data deluge.
  • An Introduction to Metadata – First in a series of JISC resources on metadata. Provides definition of metadata and introduces key topics related to metadata. Includes links to the series’other advice documents on specific applications of metadata.
  • Introduction to Metadata (2008) – An online publication devoted to metadata, its types and uses, and its value in improving access to digital resources.
  • The Metadata [R]evolution: Transformative Opportunities (2013) -- Presentations and papers from a September 2013 OCLC-sponsored workshop on the future of metadata.  Includes presentations on library roles and making research data discoverable and usable.
  • isCitedBy: A Metadata Scheme for DataCite (January 2011) – The DataCite Metadata Scheme is being designed to support dataset citation and discovery. It features a small set of mandatory properties, and an additional set of optional properties for more detailed description. Among these is a powerful mechanism for describing relationships between the registered dataset and other objects.
  • FGDC and Dublin Core Metadata Comparison (for GIS data) (2009) – Paper by the Geospatial Multistate Archive and Preservation Partnership comparing two metadata formats, FGDC and Dublin Core, in documenting geospatial data.
  • Understanding Metadata (2017) - A NISO primer authored by Jenn Riley.

Disciplinary Metadata

  • Disciplinary Metadata – Resource from the Digital Curation Center for those looking for specific disciplinary metadata specifications. The site provides links to disciplinary metadata standards, profiles, tools to implement the standards, and current repository use cases. For disciplines that do not currently have a standard and for intradisciplinary repositories, the General Research section links to information about broader metadata standards that have been adapted to suit needs of research data.

Below is just a small sampling of metadata standards by discipline:

    • Biology and Life Sciences
      • BioSharing works to map the landscape of community developed standards in the life sciences, broadly covering biological, natural and biomedical sciences. BioSharing's goal is to ensure standards are informative and discoverable.
      • Darwin Core A body of standards, including a glossary of terms (in other contexts these might be called properties, elements, fields, columns, attributes, or concepts) intended to facilitate the sharing of information about biological diversity by providing reference definitions, examples, and commentaries.
      • ABCD - Access to Biological Collection Data A standard for the access to and exchange of primary biodiversity data, including specimens and observations.
      • OME-XML - Open Microscopy Environment XML A metadata standard and data file format for biological light microscopy data.
      • NIH Common Data Elements NIH portal that contains data elements common to many data sets across differing studies.  CDEs support the improvement of data quality and  data sharing. View collections of CDEs by specific project, or subject area.
      • NINDS Common Data Elements Metadata standards for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    • Physical Sciences
    • Earth Sciences
      • ISO 19115 An internationally-adopted schema for describing geographic information and services. It provides information about the identification, the extent, the quality, the spatial and temporal schema, spatial reference, and distribution of digital geographic data.
      • Observations and Measurements This standard specifies an XML implementation for the OGC and ISO Observations and Measurements (O&M) conceptual model, including a schema for Sampling Features.
  • Ontology Lookup Service Provides a web service interface to query multiple ontologies from a single location with a unified output format. The OLS can integrate any ontology available in the Open Biomedical Ontology (OBO) format.
  • Glossary of Metadata Standards (2010) – Glossary created by the University of Indiana Libraries, acronyms arranged alphabetically.