“The ability of multiple systems, using different hardware and software platforms, data structures, and interfaces, to exchange and share data with minimal loss of content and functionality” (NISO, 2017). Disciplinary or domain specific metadata standards often require detailed technical and structural information or use specialist elements and vocabularies which can prevent metadata being shared between systems. Some metadata standards (such as Dublin Core and the DataCite Metadata Schema) have been designed to facilitate interoperability by establishing a core set of metadata elements that can be “mapped” from one standard to another.
“Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource. Metadata is often called data about data or information about information” (NISO, 2017).
“Metadata is often defined as ‘data about data’ or ‘information about information’ It is usually structured textual information that describes something about the creation, content, or context of a digital resource – be it a single file, part of a single file, or a collection of many files” (Jisc, Metadata Infokit).
Metadata elements (sometimes referred to as properties) are the basic fields that structure a metadata record, such as title, author, date, description, location, etc.
A metadata schema is a set of metadata elements that have been grouped together for a specific purpose.
Some metadata schemas become accepted as standard by a particular community or discipline. They might be officially validated by a standards organisation or simply consistently and commonly used. Metadata standards are schemas that have been well documented and endorsed by someone. Examples include VRA Core (images and works of culture), EAD (archival materials), and CIF (crystallographic science data). See also interoperability.