Creating Metadata and a Data Dictionary

What is Metadata and why is it useful and needed?

Metadata is information that you provide to describe your data resources. Search engines use metadata to help users find the data you put online. We ask for two types of metadata on our portal, structural metadata to describe what the file is and where it is located (file type, URL, etc.), and descriptive metadata to tell users what information the file contains (title, description, publisher). The more information the search engine has about your data resources, the easier it will be for it to point to your resource when users search.

Metadata is what helps a user narrow down 300 data resources to just a few that will likely provide the data they need to answer their question.

To help in creating the metadata you will need for your data resource, we have created a Microsoft Excel template that describes each Metadata field, how you should fill it out, and whether we require it for publication of your data resource. Download the template here

What is a Data Dictionary and why is it useful and needed?

A Data Dictionary is the information you provide that tells a user exactly what is in your data resource and how it can be used. It lists all the variables, both by the name they go by in the resource as well as a plain English name, the format (text, numeric, date) for each, and a description of what information the user can find in that variable.

A Data Dictionary is what helps the user decide if your data resource will provide the data that is needed to answer their question, and also if it is in a form they can use.

To help in creating the data dictionary for your resource, we have created a fillable Microsoft Word template. Download that document here. You should save the filled out file as a PDF and upload it as an associated resource with your dataset.


The next step is getting approval for publishing from your Data Coordinator and upon approval, uploading your dataset, otherwise go back to the guide contents page.