Metadata refers to all the different types of description and documentation that are needed to understand the content, context, and characteristics of a research object.
It tells the story of the work that went into the research
It provides context to those with whom you will collaborate or share work.
It communicates standards, codes, variable parameters, and details that will otherwise be forgotten.
It helps us find, discover, protect, and maintain the work
You may already be creating documentation in some form:
In the absence of disciplinary standards we recommend creating a read-me file that will fulfill basic documentation criteria.
For many, descriptive and structural metadata will be the most important elements to include in your initial documentation.
Standards are consistent ways of defining activities such as measurements and naming schemes.
Standards guide disciplinary metadata creation practices.
Many disciplines have standards - you may wish to search the following directory if you are unsure.
Community Maintained Metadata Standards Directory
In the absence of community standards - describe the elements as though you were explaining them to a researcher outside of your discipline for the first time.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a ReadMe file.