Metadata is information about information or data about data. An institutional repository will contain a metadata record for each item of content contained within it. The metadata can be collected at various stages during the ingest of an item into the repository.

In the context of an institutional repository metadata is needed to facilitate discovery of your repository content. Resource discovery of repository content is enabled through assigning relevant criteria to content items. Metadata:

  • helps users identify resources
  • brings similar resources together
  • distinguishes dissimilar resources
  • gives location information
  • is essential to facilitate harvesting of your repository content by external systems
  • helps you organise your repository content and supports archiving and preservation

A metadata scheme is a set of metadata elements designed for a specific purpose, such as describing a particular type of information resource. Repository administrators will need to define their metadata schemas at an early stage of repository installation. The schemas being used will vary depending on the types of content being stored, and an institutional repository manager is likely to need to define schemas for everything from the relatively simply text based materials being received through to more complex multimedia objects. When defining your schema it is important to consider local needs such as departmental and research structures and any local decisions needed about subject fields etc. Most people will also need to extend their schemas to new types of materials as the repository grows. Realistically and in the first instance most people will work with the metadata scheme which comes with the out of the box installation of their chosen software. However, extra fields can be added and schemas customised over time. More information on metadata formats.

Find out more from the JISC Digital Repositories infoKit