Creating Your Own Metadata

Creating metadata for spatial data sets you create while doing your research can seem like a daunting task. The best advice we can give you is to create the metadata as you create the data. There really is no time like the present when it comes to recording the details of your valuable research data!

The tips and tools on this page are provided to make getting started (and maintaining) your spatial research metadata easier:

  • Make notes as you go along – seems obvious perhaps, but we know that many students don’t… If you can’t remember which layers you fed into the user interface in ArcGIS 3 months ago, the SAL Tech Staff are not likely to remember either; even if they knew at the time what you did!
  • Use one of the tools provided by SAL to help you think about what you need to record about a new dataset.
    • The SAL_SimpleMetadataTemplate is an editable document that you can place with every new dataset you create and than maintain as appropriate if you need to go back and make changes to a dataset during the research project.
    • The Online Metadata Form will send you an email with the details you submit, which you can then store with the new dataset. If you need to update the metadata, you can simply complete the form again using the updated details for the dataset and maintain a record of the changes in your email account or saving a copy of each email with your dataset.
  • If you really don’t know where to start, open up a new word document and record
    • The name of any input datasets
    • The make and model of any field equipment used to collect field data
    • The coordinate system / projection used to collect field data
    • The name of the software tool you are feeding the data into
    • The name of the output file that will be created when you run the software tool
    • Any customised settings that you have entered while setting up the software tool
    • The details of any analysis processes performed on the data

It can be very tempting to let the software name the output file for you – especially when you are still trying to work out what you are doing. Be cautious about taking this approach though, output_file_11 and output_11 and output_file_II can get pretty confusing within days and will be less than meaningless to most people in a month…