The title of this post may seem like a farfetched claim, however, no one can deny that we are currently faced with increasingly critical challenges — climate crisis, shrinking biodiversity, hunger, poverty, disease, and more. I think most of us would agree this means it’s essential for the research findings that could help address these challenges to be shared as quickly and widely as possible — and for the data behind those findings to be FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable). And that means…metadata!
As a community, we have a collective responsibility for sharing research outputs, including their metadata. That’s why Metadata 2020 is so timely and important (disclaimer: I am co-chair of their Researcher Communications project group). This community-led initiative aims to improve metadata in order to enhance discoverability, encourage new services, create efficiencies, and — ultimately — accelerate scholarly research. Lofty goals, to be sure! Which means that to succeed in achieving them we need the support of everyone who is involved in creating, curating, and consuming metadata.
Per the FAIR principles, “Metadata and data should be easy to find for both humans and computers. Machine-readable metadata are essential for automatic discovery of datasets and services.” Building on this, the Metadata 2020 project group on Best Practices and Principles has developed a set of draft principles, which were recently released for community comment. They state that for metadata to support the community, they should be: