New metadata profiles benefit researchers who share data

Published: 2022-06-17

SND strives to make it easier for researchers to describe and find research data in the SND research data catalogue. Two new metadata profiles, for Natural Sciences and Engineering and Technology, have just been released and next in line during 2022 are profiles for Agricultural and Veterinary Science, and for Humanities and the Arts.

Portrait of Sara Svensson
Sara Svensson.

’Everything has gone according to plan. Domain Specialists and staff in the SND network have contributed to these new metadata profiles, as well as to updates to our existing profiles. We’ve also used reference groups where we’ve needed to do so’, says Sara Svensson, who has led the project together with Johan Fihn Marberg.

New fields for species and samples

The metadata profile for data from the natural sciences contains metadata fields for, for instance, names of species, connections to scientific collection/biobank, geographic and spatial information. A feature that it shares with the profile for engineering and technology is that you can add information about samples and instruments. Both profiles are connected to the NASA Thesaurus list of key words.

’It’s been a bit tricky to create a profile for technology. There are so many specific repositories for engineering and technology and SND doesn’t mean to compete with them, but instead to offer a more general and national alternative. It’s been a fine balance between including very specific metadata and metadata that are entirely general’, says Sara Svensson.

The project team are open to suggestions and comments from researchers and staff in the research data support units in the HEIs, especially if there’s something they feel is missing from the new profiles. For the rest of 2022, the team will work on two more profiles. A profile for the humanities and the arts is already under development in cooperation with the Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH) at the University of Gothenburg. The profile for agricultural and veterinary science will be developed as a collaboration between SND, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), and the National Veterinary Institute (SVA).

A new minimal profile for data entry

The metadata profiles team has also developed a minimal metadata profile that makes it possible to enter research data and receive a digital identifier (a so-called DOI) for them. Researchers can access this entry level profile only if their HEI or research organization has agreed to use it and have local data storage connected to the SND system. The profile contains a minor number of mandatory metadata fields and a few optional fields. This means that the if fulfils the FAIR principles, but to a lesser degree than ordinary data descriptions.