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Help & guidance Guides to Good Practice

Metadata and documentation

Kieron Niven, Archaeology Data Service / Digital Antiquity, Guides to Good Practice

Although many documents are often self-explanatory, it is recommended that for resource discovery and provenance purposes some basic metadata is recorded for each individual or set of documents. There are a large number of long-standing metadata standards that have arisen from a wide variety of communities (e.g. MARC[1] within the library sector) and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Within the context of recording resource discovery and provenance metadata (rather than technical file metadata recorded by formats such as textMD[2]) the metadata set described below aims to simply record a bare minimum but do so in a way which maps easily to other existing standards (most notably the fifteen elements of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set[3]). With documents in particular, there is the tendency that an overlap may exist between project level metadata and that describing documents produced as a result of a project (e.g. reports describing the project).

Element Description
Title Title of document.
Abstract Short description of document.
Date Published Year of publication.
Published Where relevant, the full location details of any published versions i.e. series/journal title, issue and volume number. Start and end page numbers or number of pages should also be recorded.
Publisher Name of document publisher and location.
ISBN ISBN[4] number (where applicable).
DOI Digital Object Identifier (DOI)[5] (where applicable).
URL URL (where applicable).
Related files / resources Details of related files or resources.
Language The language (English, Spanish, etc.) used within the document. It is recommended that a controlled vocabulary (e.g. RFC 4646) is used and specified.
Author Name of primary author(s).
Contributor Names of contributors, should be qualified e.g. Editor, Translator, Contributor.
Email Email address for author

In addition to the elements outlined above a number of other elements may need to be recorded at the document level. As mentioned previously, most of these elements may apply to a set of documents produced by a project and therefore be covered by project level metadata. They are therefore outlined here as optional elements to be used where documents produced by a project differ in scope.

Element Description
Project name Name of associated project.
Subject Monument, site type, culture, object, material keywords. Maps to DC Subject
Investigation type
Spatial coverage. Single point or series of points defining site extents, minimum and maximum latitude and longitude.
Temporal terms Period keywords, start and end dates, C14 dates.