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Repository application profile

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General Guidelines for Digital Metadata


The purpose of these guidelines is to outline key considerations in creating descriptive metadata for digital collections housed in Rice University’s Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu). These guidelines are broad in scope and are intended to apply across various collections types.



Globally shareable metadata

Given the ease of global access to information on the web, it is a reasonable expectation that resources will be discovered outside of the repository. This may occur through a simple Google search or through our participation in collaborative resource sharing with partners at other institutions. Therefore item records should contain information that makes them understandable outside of our local archive environment as well as facilitate aggregations and global sharing of digital resources.


For guidance on best practices in interoperability, please see:



Dublin core application profile

Rice University’s Digital Scholarship Archive contains a mixture of content; it includes both scholarly works (such as faculty papers, publications and projects) and cultural heritage materials (such as historical manuscripts, books and other image based artifacts). Collections may be designed with a particular user group in mind or support general scholarly research. The archive contains digital resources (and related metadata) that is submitted directly by authors as well as items prepared by library staff. This diversity presents many challenges in determining general descriptive practices for digital resources. A strategic method to mediate such diverse needs in metadata creation is the use of international or community based standards and best practices. This approach helps achieve a certain level of consistency with metadata implementation across the repository and within each collection and supports long term curation of the digital objects themselves.


A community derived application profile that is in common use by a number of library consortiums is the CDP Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices Application Profile. It is based on the Dublin Core standard, a well established standard in institutional repositories and the open access communities. This profile includes helpful general input guidelines, recommended qualifiers and vocabularies that can in turn be applied to local collections in a consistent manner. The CDPDCMBP profile supports the bibliographic needs for a majority of collections housed in the digital archive and for these reasons is used as the foundation for many of the Digital Scholarship Archive collections.


  • BCR's CDP Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices (CDPDCMBP) Version 2.1.1 September 2006 (pdf)


A note on local customization

The library actively seeks out partnerships within the Rice scholarly community to provide institutional repository related services. Such partnerships with faculty and researchers may result in specialized material description and data interoperability needs. Since a primary goal of metadata is making resources discoverable by end users, special projects may necessitate customization in order to better support a particular community of users. The granularity of descriptive metadata and selected qualifiers therefore may vary by collection or diverge from the basic CDP profile. A general recommended practice in determining when to enhance metadata is that such refinements should directly meet a defined user need and the level of descriptive metadata is sustainable. An example of locally customized qualifiers is the addition of contributor roles such as: editor, performer, photographer, etc. This example follows the guiding principles for refinements developed for specialized local or domain-specific needs1.


Community based customization

The Rice Digital Scholarship Archive also supports schemas that are developed from well-established communities of practice but which depart in some way from the simple Dublin core standard. Most notably the Interoperability Metadata Standard for Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD-MS) from the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD)


Commonly used standards

Many metadata solutions will combine various standards. The actual selection of any particular vocabulary will depend on an evaluation of a particular collection and its targeted audience. Below is a short list of standards and controlled vocabulary actively used in our local repository collections and is intended to provide a helpful starting point for review.








Metadata registry

The metadata registry is a complete list of Dublin core elements and qualifiers available from Rice University’s Digital Scholarship Archive. During the planning phase of metadata preparation, it is helpful to review this list prior to creation of any new qualifiers as there may already be available qualifiers that can meet descriptive needs for new collections. The creation of new qualifiers is dependent upon the collection needs and should adhere to Dublin core metadata best practices (CDPDCMBP) where ever possible.



1 Using Dublin Core - Dublin Core Qualifiers DCMI (2005). http://dublincore.org/documents/2005/11/07/usageguide/qualifiers.shtml


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