Coordination Action for the integration of

Solar System Infrastructures and Science

Types of Metadata

Metadata can be divided into a number of areas. Although the delineation is not necessarily unique, the top-level grouping shown below has been adopted in a number of domains:
  • Descriptive Metadata – Metadata that describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. There are many types of Descriptive Metadata but here we will highlight the following:
    • Observational Metadata – Related to the way in which a given piece of Data was obtained or processed
    • Derived Metadata – Extracted from Primary Data through subsequent analysis or processing
    • Search Metadata – Defines the criteria and boundaries of the search
  • Structural Metadata – The organisational characteristics of the Data including how it relates to other Data
  • Administrative Metadata – The characteristics related to methods of access and management of Data or other Resources
A Data Model normally describes the relationships among the metadata elements.

Which metadata are needed depends on what you are trying to do and the complexity of the system:
  • If the desire is just to produce data then the users' interest is mainly in the Observational and Derived Metadata parts of this document.
  • When the desire is to provide a capability to distribute data or provide some other functionality then the interest also encompasses the Structure Metadata.
  • If the capability is part of a larger system then the Administrative Metadata becomes important.

The Derived Metadata is potentially the easiest to change since it generated by processing the data; of course it can also be the most diverse.