Metadata is documentation regarding the contents and context of data. Appropriate re-use of data is impossible if metadata does not exist or is indecipherable. Metadata is the information that describes the dataset, how it was collected and what the variables are.
We can advise data producers on the preparation of metadata for the secondary use of data. This includes study level metadata – such as documenting methodology such as how participants were recruited, when the study occurred, etc. as well as variable level metadata – such as what is the frequency of males/females in a study, how was age captured (i.e., by weeks, years, etc.).
Documentation is not only a good practice to ensure proper re-use of data, but can be beneficial if a data producer wishes to revisit their own data.
Potential data accessors use metadata to gain a clear idea of what data are captured, and if it will serve their research needs. It informs their proposal preparation, and thus the success of their ethics review, funding and access reviews, as well as the ultimate completion of their proposed projects.
Where appropriate, SAGE can direct secondary users to specific variables that may answer their question more accurately. SAGE’s metadata standard is described in our Metadata Guide and our Metadata Mapper.