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Editorial changes to terms in DCMES - Response to comments

Title: Editorial changes to terms in the Dublin Core
              Metadata Element Set (DCMES) - response to comments
Identifier: http://dublincore.org/usage/decisions/2006/2006-03.response-to-comments.shtml
Date: 2006-12-18

The decision on editorial changes to terms of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set [1] took into account comments submitted by Pete Johnston [2] and by the Information Standards and Interoperability Team of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat of the Government of Canada [3].

Pete Johnston felt the proposed DCMES changes [4] were inconsistent in their use of the terms "controlled vocabulary" and "encoding scheme" and suggested specifying "syntax encoding scheme" or "vocabulary encoding scheme" [2]. For readability, however, the Usage Board preferred that the more general phrase "controlled vocabulary" be used throughout.

To the suggestions from Treasury Board reviewers [4], the Usage Board took the following positions:

1) The Usage Board agreed that the definitions and comments of element refinements for Coverage, Description, Format, Relation, and Date need to be aligned with the new definitions for DCMES elements and has taken this task into the Usage Board workplan for 2007.

2) The Usage Board approved the following definition of Source as suggested by the reviewers:

    The resource from which the described resource
    is derived.

3) The reviewers suggested the following definition for Relation:

    A resource associated with the described resource.

The Usage Board noted that similar wordings had been proposed in the past and felt that the words "associated with" have connotations that are too narrow.

The Usage Board approved the definition as originally proposed:

    A related resource.

4) The element Format was proposed for public comment with the definition:

    The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of
    the resource.

The Treasury Board reviewers felt that the term "file format" made the definition applicable too specifically to electronic resources and suggested:

    The physical or digital characteristics of the
    resource.

However, the Usage Board felt that the suggested wording was too broad. The words "file format" are intentionally specific to electronic resources, and the words "physical medium" and "dimension" are intentially specific to physical resources; they represent the three things that are in scope for the term.

Moreover, "file format" is a term of art for digital media formats and does not have the usual meaning of "format". As the name of something, "file format" need not be changed for repeating a word from the term label.

The broader term "characteristics", on the other hand, would encompass things outside the scope of Format, such as the physical characteristic "hot".

The Usage Board therefore approved the definition of Format as originally proposed:

    The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of
    the resource.

5) The Government of Canada uses the element Type to provide "information about the purpose and internal structure of a resource's content" [5,6]. Some of these uses seemed to fall outside the scope of the definition proposed for public comment:

    The genre, functional category, or aggregation level
    of the resource.

The Treasury Board reviewers therefore proposed a more explicit definition:

    The genre, functional category, purpose, intellectual
    structure, or aggregation level of the resource.

The Usage Board, however, felt that the terms in the Government of Canada Type Scheme do, in fact, fall under the broad category "genre". The Usage Board therefore sees no contradiction between Government of Canada usage and the definition as finalized by the Usage Board (see below):

    The nature or genre of the resource.

6) For the element Coverage, the following definition had been proposed for public comment:

    The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, or
    the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant.

The Treasury Board reviewers felt that the words "spatial or temporal topic of the resource" did not capture the full scope of usage of this element within the Government of Canada, where the spatial aspect of Coverage is also used for resources that "apply to" a certain geographic area (e.g., for employment opportunities in a specific area).

The reviewers suggested the definition:

    The spatial or temporal characteristics of the
    resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource
    is relevant.

However, the Usage Board felt that the examples given do, in fact, fall under the proposed definition of Coverage, as "applicability" falls under a broad view of "aboutness".

That spatial applicability is in scope has been made clear in the definition approved by the Usage Board:

    The spatial or temporal topic of the resource,
    the spatial applicability of the resource, or the
    jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant.

The Usage Board notes that including temporal applicability within the scope of Coverage would have introduced an overlap with the element refinement Valid ("Date (often a range) of validity of a resource").

The definition of Type was subject to careful discussion in light of implementation experience -- in practice, Type has been interpreted quite broadly -- and in light of the DCMI Abstract Model. Comparing the existing definition, from 1999:

The nature or genre of the content of the resource.

to the definition proposed for public comment:

The genre, functional category, or aggregation level
of the resource.

the Usage Board felt that the proposed definition makes the semantics of Type more specific in ways that are not well understood. The definition that was approved:

The nature or genre of the resource.

follows the wording of the existing definition and retains its broad applicability.

[1] http://dublincore.org/usage/decisions/2006/2006-03.dcmes-changes.shtml [2] http://dublincore.org/usage/meetings/2006/09/manzanillo/dcmes-changes/2006-09-21.dcmes-comments.html [3] http://dublincore.org/usage/meetings/2006/09/manzanillo/dcmes-changes/2006-09-25.GC_Comments.html [4] http://dublincore.org/usage/public-comment/2006/08/dcmes-changes/ [5] http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/im-gi/meta/profil/profil00_e.asp#_Toc132442436 [6] http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/im-gi/mwg-gtm/typ-typ/docs/2003/schem/schem_e.asp