A.4 Metadata

A.4 – Metadata

Metadata Upkeep

Metadata upkeep is often a challenge for an agency.  Ensure that appropriate procedures, roles, and responsibilities are in place for adding, changing, or deleting metadata items.  Additionally, consider what metadata data management tools (such as a web-based metadata repository) are needed to ensure efficiency in recording and sharing. 

Data Dictionary Standards

When establishing standards for data dictionary metadata, consider available national/international standards (e.g. ISO 19115 and other supplemental IS191** series standards) and the following standardized attribution:

Application, System, Table, and Field Names: unique name and/or identifier of the associated IT application, specific table, and associated field associated with the data dictionary entry.

Description: a meaningful description of the documented field or data element.

Required: is the field a required entry?

Field Type and Requirements: capture information relating to the nature of the information being stored in the field, such as the field type, length, precision, or acceptable values.

ID / Key / Uniqueness: capture if the field a primary or foreign key, or otherwise required to be unique.

Confidentiality/Sensitivity: classify the potential confidentiality or sensitivity of the field (for example, if it contains personally identifiable information).

Usage: document any particular context or limits to the use of the data in the field.

Associated Business Terms: identify what business terms or concepts are represented by the field.

Dataset or Database Level Standards

When establishing standards for dataset level metadata, consider the following standardized attribution:

Application or System Name: a unique name and/or identifier of the IT application or system or that which is associated with the dataset.

Owner/Steward: a business point of contact or subject matter expert.

Creation/Update Dates: the date when the dataset was last created or updated.

Security/Sensitivity: categorize the security or sensitivity level of the dataset or system.

Acceptable Uses: document the acceptable uses of the system or dataset.

Important Terminology

The following terms are used within this Section.

Data Catalog:

A listing of available data resources complied to facilitate discovery and understanding.

Data Dictionary:

A table documenting individual data elements in a dataset containing information such as data element name, description, and type.


Data providing information about other data. This information can be technical (e.g. field names and formats) or business-oriented (e.g. data definitions).