4 Common Metadata Standards To Follow

Metadata standards are the foundation for an effective data governance strategy, as they allow for consistency and enable effective data sharing. Learn more.
Last updated
May 2, 2024

An Introduction To Metadata Standards

The concept of metadata goes back centuries and has been used in a variety of applications, from library catalogs to resource ontologies. It is now increasingly important in the digital world, providing a layer of context to the content we create and store. Metadata standards provide a common language of describing content across organizations, devices, and platforms, and ensure consistency in how information is stored and shared.

There are a number of common metadata standards that are widely used across a variety of industries and organizations. These standards provide a baseline of structure, organization, and rules around “metadata” that provides consistency across all digital systems. This makes metadata much easier to access, interpret, and use, enabling organizations and systems to effectively communicate and collaborate.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the common metadata standards and how to use them effectively. It covers essential topics such as the importance of data standards, the basics of the Dublin Core and RDF metadata, and best practices for metadata management. With this guide, you will be well-equipped to set-up and maintain strong data standards for all your digital records.

What are metadata standards?

Metadata standards are the foundations for an effective data governance strategy, as they allow for consistency and enable effective data sharing. In this guide, we'll explore the key considerations when managing your metadata standards, the benefits that come from adhering to data standards, and how you can develop and measure the success of standards in your organization.

When it comes to managing your metadata standards, the most important thing to consider is what kind of data your organization works with. Different types of data, such as structured versus unstructured, require different approaches and standards. Once you understand what kind of data your organization works with, then you can start to analyze the data and create definitions for each element of the dataset. This will lay the groundwork for improving the data governance process and the consistency of data.

Data standards provide many benefits to an organization. They ensure consistency and accuracy across data collections, and enable effective data sharing between different departments and regions. Data standards also make it easier to search for and analyze data. Establishing standards also encourages organizations to adopt best practices for data quality, which ultimately leads to improved decision making and business efficiency.

To ensure that data standards are effective in an organization, it is important to develop a strategy that outlines the importance of following standards, and the consequences of not adhering to them. Additionally, it is important to track and measure how well the standards are followed in order to identify any issues and correct them quickly. This can be done by using key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the performance of data quality, consistency, and accuracy.

By understanding the importance of managing metadata standards and developing a strategy for measuring and tracking their performance, organizations can ensure the quality of their data and strengthen the data governance process. As a result, organizations can improve their decision making and ultimately become more competitive in their respective markets.

Why are they important to follow?

Managing your metadata using these standards is becoming increasingly important for organizations of all sizes, as the amount of digital data continues to grow. Establishing strong management practices for your metadata will ensure that it is kept up-to-date and accurately reflects your content, and will reduce the time and effort needed to maintain the data over the long-term. Additionally, by adhering to these standards, you will be able to seamlessly share your data with other organizations and systems, free from unnecessary complexity and incompatibility issues.

Popular frameworks

Data governance is becoming increasingly important. Metadata standards are the core of any data governance strategy and provide a set of agreed-upon rules that ensure data is properly managed and maintains its value and meaning over time.

The two most common metadata standards are the Dublin Core Metadata Specification and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). The Dublin Core Metadata Specification provides a basic data model for resource description and facilitates cross-domain interoperability. It is a widely used and accepted standard, and was developed in response to a growing need for unified and consistent description of web resources. RDF provides a powerful model for representing, sharing, and integrating data across different applications and online platforms.

Metadata management involves the definition, capture, analysis and management of data to maintain the information's accuracy and relevancy. Common metadata standards include Dublin Core, Dublin Core Abstract Model (DCAM), SVG Metadata (SVG), ISO/IEC 11179 Metadata Registry and RDF/XML. Here are some additional details about each type:

Dublin Core Abstract Model (DCAM)

Dublin Core is an internationally-recognized set of 15 core data elements. It is designed to provide a high-level description of digital resources, including documents, digital images, and web pages. It is often used in databases and search engines. The Dublin Core Abstract Model (DCAM) provides a framework for describing digital resources that helps to ensure interoperability and consistency.

SVG Metadata (SVG) 

SVG Metadata (SVG) is a standard metadata format for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) images. It includes instructions on how to render the image and can be used to support multiple resolutions.

ISO/IEC 11179 Metadata Registry

ISO/IEC 11179 Metadata Registry is a global data element registry that outlines a set of rules and guidelines for how data elements should be defined and managed. It is designed to support sharing, cataloging, and integration of metadata elements. 


Finally, RDF/XML is a markup language for encoding data in an XML format that can be exchanged between different applications.

Understanding these popular metadata standards is essential for properly managing and governing your digital data. By adhering to a consistent set of rules and guidelines, you can ensure that your data remains meaningful, accurate and up-to-date. This guide will help you understand the different metadata standards and provide tips and advice on how to effectively manage your data.

Pros and cons of metadata standards

The pros and cons of each metadata standard can be a tricky thing to navigate, and it is important to understand the implications of your decision.


The main advantage of using a standard metadata framework is that it creates consistency across multiple data stores and can be used as a reliable reference. By making data more consistent, metadata standards can also help organizations achieve accurate and more meaningful insights.

Another pro of using standards is that they are easily maintained and updated. Making sure all consistent information is properly updated and maintained can be challenging, but a standard framework reduces this challenge by providing up to date definitions and rules.


On the flip side, metadata standards can be difficult to understand and adopt. It can be time-consuming to learn and implement the different guidelines and terminology used in different standards. Additionally, these standards can prescribe a “one size fits all” approach that doesn’t necessarily fit every organization.

Finally, an organization may have to incur costs in order to properly implement and maintain its standards. Depending on the standard and the size of the organization, these costs can be quite substantial.

In conclusion, understanding the pros and cons of each metadata standard is the first step in managing your metadata. With this guide, you can be sure to make the right decision for your organization and make sure your data is effectively and efficiently managed.

How to choose the right metadata standard

Metadata is essential in any data governance strategy. Properly organized and used correctly, it can help your organization save time and resources by more effectively managing and searching for data. But how do you know which metadata standard is right for your organization?

The first step is to evaluate your organization's needs in regards to metadata. Is there an existing metadata standard already in use? If so, make sure it meets the needs with respect to the size, complexity and scope of your data. It is also important to consider if the existing standard is too restrictive and if you will be able to manage the data according to the metadata.

The next step is to look at available metadata standards. Generally, these come in two forms: open standards and proprietary standards. Open standards are typically free of cost and make use of vendor-neutral, publicly-available formats, such as XML or JSON. Open standards enable your business to be more extensible and avoid vendor lock-in. Proprietary standards can be more expensive but may offer more features and customization. If you choose the proprietary route, make sure the partner you select is reputable, always keeps up with their contractual obligations, and can respond quickly to needs and requests.

Finally, make sure the metadata standard you choose is compliant with relevant regulations and data privacy standards, such as GDPR, CCPA and HIPAA. Having a secure and compliant metadata standard that meets all of your data governance requirements is essential for staying compliant in today’s data-driven economy.


In summary, choosing the right metadata standard is essential for any successful data governance strategy. Evaluate your organization’s needs, compare open and proprietary standards and make sure the chosen standard conforms to data privacy regulations. With the right metadata standard in place, your organization can achieve its data governance goals.

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