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Nursing Sciences : Metadata

This page was created for the online users during the COVID 19 period. It is meant to be a one-stop resource for nursing sciences, Postgraduate students.

What is Metadata?

Metadata can be described as ‘data about data’. It is information that has been documented to help other researchers discover and cite someone's data. Metadata makes data easily searchable, easily located from a citation and easily understood by people who might want to use that data. It is the descriptive information that gives context to data.

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) defined metadata as follows “Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use or manage an information resource.”

Three main types of Metadata

Descriptive Metadata

This type of metadata identifies resources by their descriptions.It helps connect users to resources, and provides important context about a resource once it is discovered. Descriptive metadata may include elements such as title, author, subject, publisher, idetifier, date of publication etc.

Metadata description therefore tries to answer the following questions during the discovery process: who created the data, what the data file contains, when the data were generated, where the data were generated,why the data were generated.

When metadata is created, the researcher should bear these tips in mind 

  • Give all file names and formats associated with the project, how the data are organized, how the data were generated (including any equipment or software used), and information about how the data have been altered or processed is captured.
  • Include an explanation of codes, abbreviations, or variables used in the data 

Administrative metadata 

This types of data fascilitates the nanagement of resources. It can include elements such as rights and use of data.

Structural Metadata 

This metadata type indicates how digital assets are organised. It includes the physical structure of data and it is generally used in machine processing

Metadata useful resource


  • Understanding metadata: What is metadata, and what is it for?: A primer by Jenn Riley (2017): this guide is available for free online, published by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)