innovation in metadata design, implementation & best practices

DCMI Tools Community

DCMI Tools Glossary

Draft version, May 6, 2007

A finite set of well-defined instructions for accomplishing some task which, given an initial state, will terminate in a defined end-state. (Wikipedia)

Application Profile
An assemblage of metadata elements selected from one or more metadata schemas and combined in a compound schema. Application profiles provide the means to express principles of modularity and extensibility. The purpose of an application profile is to adapt or combine existing schemas into a package that is tailored to the functional requirements of a particular application, while retaining interoperability with the original base schemas. Part of such an adaptation may include the elaboration of local metadata elements that have importance in a given community or organization, but which are not expected to be important in a wider context. (Duval)

Automatically Generated Metadata
Metadata generated with the aid of machine processing.
See derived metadata, metadata extraction, and metadata harvesting. (Greenberg)

Can refer to either
  • conversion between schemas
  • conversion of encoding (x/html to xml)

A semantic mapping of metadata elements across metadata schema specifications. Crosswalks permit searching across multiple databases that use different schemas (Greenberg)

Derived Metadata
Metadata that is automatically generated based on system programming and profiles. For example, a system program may automatically derive metadata values for "date_created", "date_modified", or resource "size".
Additionally, a profile may be stored to automatically derive metadata, such as default values for "rights access", or "creator" information based on login identification.

Manually generated metadata
Metadata generated by a human. Examples of classes of people generating metadata are metadata professionals (e.g., catalogers, indexers, and other persons trained to work with information standards), Web architects, content creators, and technical assistants. (Greenberg)

An item of metadata may describe an individual data item or a collection of data items. Metadata is used to facilitate the understanding, use and management of data. (Wikipedia)

Metadata Creation
Creation of metadata can be either
  • by professional metadata creators; these include catalogers, indexers, and database administrators
  • by technical metadata creators; these include webmasters, data in-putters, paraprofessionals, encoders and other persons who create metadata and may have had basic training but not professional level training
  • by content creators; people who create the intellectual content of an object and the metadata for that object
  • by community / subject enthusiasts; people who have not had any formal metadata-creation training but have special subject knowledge and want to assist with documentation

Metadata Encoding
The syntax or prescribed order for the elements contained in the metadata description (NISO)

Metadata Extraction
Metadata generated by machine processing document content. Automatic indexing and information retrieval algorithms are generally employed. For example, term frequency algorithms are used to assign subject terms.
Algorithms identifying nouns and noun phrases for metadata properties (e.g., author, date, title) may be used to identify metadata element values. (Greenberg)

Metadata Generation
The act of creating or producing metadata. Metadata can be generated by people, tools and processes (Greenberg)

Metadata Harvesting
Automatically gathering metadata that is already associated with a resource, and which has been produced via automatic or manual means. Metadata harvested may be attached to a document (e.g., it may be encoded in the header of a Web resource), or it may be found in a metadata registry or database. (Greenberg)

Metadata Template
Metadata format designed for some specific use or subject. (Severiens)

In XML, a namespace is a collection of names, identified by a URI reference, that are used in XML documents as element types and attribute names. In order for XML documents to be able to use elements and attributes that have the same name but come from different sources, there must be a way to differentiate between the markup elements that come from the different sources. (

In general terms, any organization, coding, outline or plan of concepts. In terms of metadata, a systematic, orderly combination of elements or terms. In terms of DCMI term declarations represented in XML or RDF schema language, schemas are machine-processable specifications which define the structure and syntax of metadata specifications in a formal schema language. In terms of an encoding scheme, is a set of rules for encoding information that supports a specific community of users. See also Encoding scheme. (DCMI)

Search Engine
A utility capable of returning references to relevant information resources in response to a query. (DCMI)

Consisting of programs, enables a computer to perform specific tasks (Wikipedia)

Small piece of software, designed for developmental and laboratorial use (Severiens)

The interpretation of the meaning of a text in one language and the production, in another language, of an equivalent text that communicates the same message. Translation between may also convert meaning between semantics or schemes. (Wikipedia, Severiens)

Conversion of names or text not written in the roman alphabet to roman-alphabet form. (AACR Glossary)

Software program that functions for a particular purpose. (Wikipedia)

  • Validating that syntax of element contents is correct (e.g. YYYY-MM-DD)
  • validating the encoding (e.g., XML)