What is it? Why is it important?
Metadata describes and gives information about data. Also referred to as “data about data”.
Metadata provides basic information on data. Its aim is to help organise, find and understand data (e.g. images, videos, or spreadsheets).
Metadata can be evaluated and displayed by search engines during searches.
Examples of metadata information
- Descriptive information:
Intellectual content or origin. Allows the data to be searched and retrieved (e.g. title, abstract, author, keywords)
- Structural information:
Internal structure, technical description (e.g. page, sections, chapter numbering, indexes, table of content, variable names, dataset location)
- Administrative information:
Long-term and short-term management and processing (e.g. technical data, access control, user requirements, archiving)
- Explanatory information:
Provides context to statistical data (e.g. the methodology used for data collection and aggregation or, methods used for data quality check)
- Statistical information:
Processes used to collect, process, and describe statistical data
Provides the search engine with additional information
What do I need to do?
Make yourself familiar with:
- Data formats including its applicable metadata (e.g. definition of codes and classification schemes)
- The use of standardised- / international data formats (e.g. CDISC format)
- Metadata requested by authorities (e.g. SNSF, FDA, EMA)
Data sharing and the comparability of study results are increasingly facilitated through the use of standardised formats, including information provided through metadata.
Examples of study data and their metadata
- Gender: female = 1; male = 2, unknown = 99
- Primary study endpoint reached: yes = 1, no = 0
- Missing values: D = participant dropped out of the study, L = participant lost to follow-up
- BMI: algorithm = weight (kg) / height (m2)
Where can I get help?
Your local CTU↧ can support you with experienced staff regarding this topic
Basel, Clinical Trials Unit, CTU, dkf.unibas.ch
Bellinzona, Clinical Trials Unit, CTU-EOC, www.ctueoc.ch
Bern, Clinical Trials Unit, CTU, www.ctu.unibe.ch
Geneva, Clinical Research Center, CRC, crc.hug.ch
Lausanne, Clinical Research Center, CRC, www.chuv.ch
St. Gallen, Clinical Trials Unit, CTU, www.kssg.ch
Zürich, Clinical Trials Center, CTC, www.ctc.usz.ch
CDISC – see in particular
- Define-xlm – It transmits metadata that describes any tabular dataset structure
Datacite – see in particular
- Datacite Metadata Schema – List of properties for consistent identification of a resource for a citation