What is metadata?
Metadata is information about a particular data set or “data about data”. The metadata describe the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data in a structured format to facilitate query and retrieval. For more background on metadata, please visit the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata home page.
Why is it important to prepare metadata for my data set?
Documenting your data set is vital in helping potential users find the right data and make a determination as to whether or not it meets their needs before time and money are spent to obtain and process the data.
Is there a Federal requirement to prepare metadata?
Executive Order No. 12906 requires all Federal agencies and organizations receiving federal funds for the creation of geospatial data to document that data using the FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), Version 2 (FGDC-STD-001-1998). E.O. 12906 also directs the FGDC to develop geospatial data standards and a National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse for implementing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
What metadata standards should I use to document my data set?
The FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), Version 2 (FGDC-STD-001-1998), should be used to document all geospatial data that is shared over the FWS Internet or Intranet, as well as any data that require archiving for legal purposes. NOTE: The current FWS Geospatial Metadata Standard has been revised to completely align with the FGDC CSDGM; this means that all Mandatory and Mandatory If Applicable elements in the FGDC CSDGM are applicable.
Biological data should be documented using the Biological Data Profile of the CSDGM described below.
FGDC has endorsed Profiles of the CSDGM Version 2 for documenting specific types of data:
Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata: Part 1, Biological Data Profile (FGDC-STD-001.1-1999) – this profile requires the use of a specified taxonomic vocabulary and should be used to document biological data sets (e.g., laboratory results, field notes, specimen collections, research reports), both geospatial and non-geospatial. NOTE: The current FWS Biological Metadata Standard includes all Mandatory elements in the FGDC CSDGM, as well as a subset of metadata elements determined to be important by the FWS GIS Steering Committee. This standard is being revised to completely align with the FGDC CSDGM; once adopted, all Mandatory and Mandatory If Applicable elements in the FGDC CSDGM will be applicable.
View or download a Graphical Representation of the Biological Data Profile produced by the USGS Center for Biological Informatics in conjunction with the FGDC.