The Purpose of Metadata
To put it simply, metadata is data which describes other data.
More specifically, metadata is used to describe the what, where, when, how and who about data holdings.
As well-managed data is a valuable asset and resource for both present and future use, it is vital to maintain its
availability, discoverability, and usability.
NMFS Data Documentation Requirements
Data documentation is a governmental mandate. The NMFS Data and Information Policy Directive
(NMFSPD 04-111, July 2010) states,
"All data shall shall have a standard set of metadata... and an authoritative source for the data shall
The scope of applicable data assets is defined by the NMFS Data Documentation Procedural Directive as follows:
- All NMFS data collections and products derived from these data shall be documented.
- Data collections funded by NMFS, and products derived from these collections that are funded by
NMFS, shall be documented as a project deliverable.
- Data collections currently in progress and products derived from these data shall be documented as
soon as possible but no later than the end of the calendar year in which this Directive is approved
- Documentation for ongoing collections and products derived from these data must be updated at
- All active and planned data collection programs shall provide documentation compliant with the
standards established in this Directive, as well as applicable law and other requirements, as a
condition of approval and funding.
- Participants in cooperative data collection programs, such as state agencies and Interstate fisheries
commissions, shall be encouraged to fully document their data contributions according to guidance
established in this Directive.
NMFS Data Documentation Procedural Directive