The Crossref Curriculum

The wonderful world of metadata

Metadata is the fuel for search and discovery of research information. Metadata helps users find relevant information and discover resources, and it is used to organize, identify, and support the archiving and preservation of resources. Metadata is data (information) about other data - for example, article metadata includes details of the title and author (descriptive metadata), journal volumes and page numbers (structural metadata), and provenance, location, and access rights (administrative metadata).

Research travels further if it’s linked to the millions of other published works. Crossref members register their content with us, making it available to numerous systems and organizations that together help credit and cite the work, report the impact of funding, record activity, and track outcomes. This builds a trusted global network of persistently-linked research information, showing citations, updates, relationships, giving credit, and establishing provenance.

By default, all the metadata members deposit with Crossref is available to be searched and retrieved by everyone. The content types that you can currently register include journals and journal articles; books, chapters, and reference works; conference proceedings; grants; reports/working papers; standards; datasets; dissertations; preprints; peer reviews; and components - and we’re always adding more. Learn more about our content types.

Members register content with us by depositing information called metadata. Metadata is information about research outputs, set out in elements such as dates, titles, authors, affiliations, funders, and online location (URL) - see this example XML showing an author’s details in the contributors element:

<person_name sequence="first" contributor_role="author">

Metadata does not include the full-text of the content itself. It is important to note that while we collect, preserve, and make metadata available for the scholarly community, we do not correct, edit, or change submitted metadata. The metadata also includes a digital object identifier (DOI) for each work, which stays with the work even if its website changes. Learn more about the structure of a DOI. It is the Identifier which is digital, rather than the Object, so a DOI can refer to an analog entity.

A DOI provides a persistent, reliable link to a work, and its associated metadata makes the work discoverable. Within Crossref’s database is a huge collection of metadata records, each one giving information about a research object according to the rules set out in our schema - an agreed way to enter information in each field. These records create a map of scholarly research.

In summary, metadata is data (information) about other data. Learn more about metadata:

Page owner: Laura J. Wilkinson   |   Last updated 2020-April-08