General Information

Workshop on Research Metadata in Context

7./8. September 2010, Nijmegen

An expert group stated recently that “a fundamental characteristic of our age is the rising tide of data – global, diverse, valuable and complex” and that “in the realm of science this is both an opportunity and challenge”. One of the big challenges will remain how we are going to identify, find and manage (including correctness, integrity, accuracy, precision, security, privacy, provenance, preservation, curation) individual resources in the increasing distributed and heterogeneous heap of data. Descriptive metadata describing resources as an individual object will not be the only way to solve this challenge, but – along with restrictive and curation metadata - it will be an important one. This has to do with the fact that metadata describes aspects of resources that cannot be retrieved from the content itself and it classifies resources along dimensions meaningful for utilisation of data in the research domain. Therefore an increasing number of disciplines and infrastructure initiatives1 has worked out suggestions for domain specific metadata solutions. These solutions exhibit a large variation in approach, often do not consider the experience of decades of discussions about metadata, do not follow basic and common IT principles, do not address cross-domain aspects and new application types for metadata that are emerging.

We currently see a number of initiatives that will tackle various aspects of metadata:

  • The Europeana initiative is harvesting huge amount of metadata descriptions about archive, museum and library collections making use of the DublinCore metadata.
  • The DRIVER project also had as its goal to bring together metadata and content from libraries to create one searchable domain.
  • The OpenAIRE project which started with Dublin Core now intends to use CERIF (Common European Research Information Format).
  • The CLARIN initiative is creating its Virtual Language Observatory by applying similar techniques as Europeana.
  • There are many individual projects – some associated with Research Infrastructures – that are creating local metadata standards of their own.
  • There will be the APARSEN network of excellence that will focus in particular on metadata requirements for curation and preservation.
  • There will be so-called cluster projects funded by the EC that will address cross-discipline activities in research domains such as “humanities and social sciences”, “life sciences”, “environmental sciences” and “high energy physics”, i.e. cross-discipline metadata approaches will be an important point. This is closely associated with the ESFRI roadmap.
  • DG INFSO is and will be funding projects that are working and will work on data infrastructures, i.e. also bringing various disciplines together in the e-Infrastructure.

All of this is the background to organize this workshop with the goal to create an open forum for all interested infrastructure and other projects that are dealing with metadata issues to increase the level of understanding and awareness. At this forum the experts can interact about different aspects of metadata, get a deeper understanding of the usage dimensions of metadata, analyse the requirements of new applications such as automatic profile matching, analyse the various approaches by the disciplines, discuss methods of quality enrichment (context, vocabularies) and common principles to be considered and design systems of cross-community approaches taking into account that the semantic descriptions will vary considerably.

We would like to use this first workshop to see whether there is sufficient interest in writing a proposal for a support or networking action project to create the forum mentioned above. 15 initiatives reacted to our invitation in a positive way, i.e. we expect between 25 and 30 participants to discuss the issues above mentioned. Therefore we adapted the program to meet the goals and expectations.

The workshop is organised under the auspices of the Alliance for Permanent Access to the Records of Science and the CLARIN initiative.

1 Here we refer in particular to the projects funded according to the ESFRI roadmap recommendations.