Metadata Governance, Standards, and Strategies

Metadata can be a scary term to a lot of people. It just sounds complicated. And it can get complicated. It is often defined as “data about data,” which is true but somewhat confusing, and this does not provide enough information for most people to understand.

“Meta” derives from the Greek word that means “alongside, with, after, next.” Metadata can be defined as “structured data about other data.”1

In electronic records management (ERM), metadata identifies a record and its contents. ERM metadata describes a record's characteristics so that it may be classified more easily and completely. Metadata fields, or terms, for e–records can be as basic as identifying the name of the document, the creator or originating department, the subject, the date it was created, the document type, the length of the document, its security classification, and its file type.

Creating standardized metadata terms is part of an information governance (IG) effort that enables faster, more complete, and more accurate searches and retrieval of records. This is important not only in everyday business operations, but also, for example, when searching through potentially millions of records during the discovery phase of litigation.

Good metadata management also assists in the maintenance of corporate memory, and improving accountability in business operations.2

Using a standardized format and controlled vocabulary provides a “precise and comprehensible ...

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