Making research data FAIR is not only a benefit to the research community. It can also add to the scientific merit of researchers when their data are being reused and cited. Besides that, proper data documentation is essential for exchanging research data with colleagues or in the community, and even for understanding ones own research data after motnhs or years.
Metadata are a way to describe data in a structured and standardized way. Because they can be used to configure the access point to the data, they are also the key for data findability, access and reuse. Ideally, standardized metadata terminology is used to describe research data. Generic research data standards such as Dublin Core can be applied to various or nearly all types of data, but they have less expressive power than a discipline-specific standard. Up-to-date lists of discipline-specific metadata standards can be found on the following sites:
- Fairsharing.org maintained by the University of Oxford e-Research Centre.
- The Disciplinary Metadata Catalogue by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) maintains a list of standards alongside with application profiles, use cases, and tools.
- The Metadata Directory initiated by the Metadata Standards Directory Working Group of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) is community driven version of the DCC catalogue and provides more functionalities and possibilities for contributions.