Metadata is: Data about data
Metadata is just data that provides information about other data. Metadata is used to categorise, organise and index scholarly articles. Metadata is usually structured according to a standardised concept using a well-defined metadata scheme.
There are different metadata schemes for different content. For scholarly articles there are a few schemes in use — Journal Article Tagging Suite is one of the most commonly used metadata schemes.
A metadata scheme can be used in a number of different programming or markup languages — JATS can be expressed in XML, plain text and in HTML. If an article is published in only a PDF format, then the webpage hosting the article can host the articles metadata.
Using established metadata schemes is extremely helpful for discovery and indexing. As the International Organization for Standardization says “if both the indexer and the searcher are guided to choose the same term for the same concept, then relevant documents will be retrieved”.
Metadata for journal articles typically contains:
Journal metadata, article metadata, and issue metadata
The journal metadata for an article is information concerning the journal in which the article was published. This usually contains at least the journal title, ISSN, and publisher.
The article metadata is information concerning the article, for example, bibliographic data such as authorship, article title, license information, and publication date. It also includes descriptive material such as keywords and abstracts, and crucially any article identifying numbers such as DOIs.
The issue metadata for an article is information concerning the issue in which the article was published. This includes the volume and issue number, and the issue title if it has one.
Metadata is used to find, describe and organise articles and is crucial for search engines and abstracting and indexing services. The richer you can make your metadata, the better readers will be able to find, read and cite articles published in your journal.
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