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University of Portland Clark Library

Data Management: Data Documentation & Standards

Data Documentation Standards

Data standards are the rules by which data are described or documented.  In order to share, exchange, and understand data, we must standardize the format of the data as well as document the metadata (specific information about the research data) both the descriptive meta data and the structural metadata.

  • Using standards makes data more usable to more than just the project or person that created the data.
  • Standards are useful for integrating data from multiple resources. If the various sources agreed upon a standard to begin with, this saves time reconciling any differences.
  • When collecting new data, try to find data standards for the type of data you are collecting. Different disciplines and different kinds of data use different standards.

Resources for Data Standards

Basics of Metadata


Metadata, or data about data, is a standardized way of documenting the context of the data by describing the origin, purpose, time, geographic location, creator, access, terms of use, and other elements related to the research data.  Metadata provides the information necessary to discovery, access, and reuse a dataset. There are a variety of metadata standards with different focuses by discipline.

The table below provides a basic description of each important element to be included in the metadata attached to your research project:

Metadata Chart

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