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The Landscape of Metadata Research and Development

Jian Qin

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


Since the first Dublin Core conference in 1995, metadata research and development (R&D) has expanded beyond the traditional boundaries of library and information science. The term Metadata becomes a symbol of digital information organization and management and is widely used and studied by academic, government, business, and other organizations.

Metadata R&D has gone through three phases in the past ten years. The first phase (roughly 1995-1998) is characterized by exploring and defining what metadata is, what roles it plays in representing and organizing Internet resources, ,and how metadata can adapt to domain specific or local needs for organizing networked information resources. Dublin core metadata elements were accepted as the base, on which many organizations and domains developed their own element sets. Various metadata tools also mushroomed though many were stand-alone templates that lacked the technological rigor.

The rapid development of metadata soon created new issues and challenges. These new issues mainly fell into two categories: interoperability and standardization. Metadata activities in the second phase (roughly 1998-2003) largely focused on these two issues. During this period, Dublin Core became an international standard (ISO15386:2003(E)) and many professional and industrial associations also established industry-wide or domain specific metadata standards, e.g., IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee developed the Learning Object Metadata (LTSC, 2005), Federal Geographic Data Committee developed the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC, 1998), and the Visual Resource Association released the VRA Core (VRA, 2002). Various digital library projects also generated a large number of customized metadata schemes based on local description needs. At the same time, crosswalks between metadata schemes and between traditional bibliographic standards and metadata schemes were created to deal with interoperability issues.

Technology advances have intimately influenced Metadata R&D. The third phase of metadata R&D saw a matured research and application field, in which every branch is built upon the newest technology and concepts:

** Metadata and Semantic Web that focuses on vocabularies and ontologies with XML-based encoding;

** Automatic metadata generation that applies machine learning, natural language processing, and information retrieval theories and techniques;

** Metadata interoperability that integrates protocols, metadata mapping, and technology; and

** Evaluation of metadata for its usefulness and appropriateness by using data mining and user-oriented approaches.

The above list, which is by no means complete, suggests that metadata R&D has developed a new landscape in digital information representation and management and needs a survey to understand the current activities and future direction. This panel brings researchers from Asia, North America, and Europe to this survey an international perspective.

Jian Qin and Raed Sharif. will present the result from a review project which covers a 10 year (1997-2006) span of metadata research. This project surveys metadata research literature in the areas of metadata architecture, semantics in metadata elements, and metadata binding and systems while examining research methodologies and development strategies.

Eva Mendez will present an overview of the European metadata research and initiatives dealing with the main projects which use metadata grounding information systems and services among different domains such as, e-Administration, e-Learning and European Digital Heritage.

Xiaolin Zhang will give an overview of metadata research activities and projects in China, including metadata in digital libraries and in particular, metadata for scientific data, news and broadcasting, museum and archives, and education. His presentation will also cover metadata efforts in Chinese Science and Technology Infrastructure.


DCMI (1995-2006). Dublin Core Metadata Initiative.

FGDC. (1998). Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata. tadata/index_html

LTSC (Learning Technology Standards Committee, 2005). The Learning Object Metadata Standard.

VRA. (2002). VRA Core Categories, Version 3.0: a project of the Visual Resources Association Data Standards Committee.

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