Phase 0


Most people wouldn’t think: ‘Well, if we can fix this metadata we can find a cure for cancer.’ If we can find a way to connect those dots that would be huge. Nobody is asking: What is the cost to society?

Conceived in October 2017, Metadata 20/20 was founded to advocate for richer, connected and reusable metadata. With significant metadata efforts already underway, the project sought to rally and support the community around the critical issue of sharing richer metadata for research communications because

  • Richer metadata fuels discoverability and innovation
  • Connected metadata bridges the gaps between systems and communities
  • Reusable metadata eliminates duplication of effort

Participants in Metadata 20/20’s collaborative work recognized that when we settle for inadequate metadata, none of these results are possible, and everyone using research outputs will suffer as a consequence.

The Foundation Work

Our Foundational work started with a small group that had been thinking about the critical importance of metadata. This sparked the involvement of a broad community that helped to define a framework for what became the international, community-driven initiative of Metadata 20/20. This page shares some of the highlights, with details provided in the report linked below.

The Spark

In early 2016, Crossref had been thinking about the critical importance of metadata, and what they may contribute to the community to help realize some of its promise of connection, discovery, insight and attribution of research resources. The First Draft Framework of what an effort might look like was based on exploratory interviews that provided Metadata 20/20’s initial brushstrokes:

In the hands of many

"It's layers upon layers. The value is that it's in the hands of the community, in that it's in the control of many. It shouldn't be in the hands of one."

At the moment of need

"Like a lot of these things, the why is complicated because it's a collective benefit. The future of publishing is in the connections, in helping people find the information they need in the moment. No one is going to go to the publishers for that."

You go first…

"I find it a bit depressing that I'm not asked for my ORCID more often and when they do, it's not used. You know how it is, everyone is waiting for someone else to make the first move."

Worth the pain

"The smaller publishers will probably be doing something really basic like Excel and they're difficult to reach. If you can provide them with a story that richer metadata will increase their visibility, I am quite sure that there would be some good response from that."

More carrots, less sticks

"I suppose that's about making a compelling case for what happens when the metadata arrives. For example, the Zika virus and what people need is immediately reliable linked up information. Will better metadata make that possible?"

Mapping our future

"What do we want this industry to be? That's really interesting. The idea of being an advocacy or identity campaign might touch a nerve in such a way that other approaches might not."

Community From The Start

One of the first questions was, how could Metadata 20/20 be structured to provide support to the research and scholarship community to drive awareness about the importance of rich metadata and to create a sense of urgency to address existing challenges. Most importantly, how can such an initiative be structured to put the community itself at the center of driving the agenda, developing the solutions, and driving this change? To answer this question of structure, a diverse advisory group was formed to help define the body of work for the Metadata 20/20 initiative.

The Metadata 20/20 Framework

The advisory group developed an initial framework through focus groups, workshops, and discussions with individuals and organizations. This framework helped to organize and guide the work ahead.

1. A clear vision

Why should an initiative like Metadata 20/20 be formed, and what should it set out to do?

2. Input from a Broad Community Cross-section

Broad input is important to address the multifaceted topic of metadata

3. Compelling and Engaging Communications

Strong communications are necessary for initiative impact; the use of storytelling provides and important backbone for this engagement.

4. Other Related Initiatives

We should strive to incorporate, build upon, and complement the work already done in this area.

5. Measuring Impact

It would be helpful to attempt to measure impact, perhaps through the development of a maturity model.

The Initial Metadata 2020 Phased Goals

As a result of this foundational work, the advisory group established a set of phased goals.

We aim to create awareness and resources for all who have a stake in creating and using scholarly metadata. We will demonstrate why richer metadata should be the scholarly community’s top priority, how we can all evaluate ourselves and improve, and what can be achieved when we work harder, and work together.

By the end of 2020, we will

  1. Articulate the value of metadata
    • Best practice framework (metadata maturity model, upstream/downstream)
    • Business cases
  2. Solicit audience-specific views
    • Values for different communities
    • Stories (qualitative)
    • Research (quantitative)
  3. Identify common metadata problems across the community (e.g., title, author, institution, funder, etc.)
  4. Identify audience-specific metadata problems
  5. Connect it all, pull it all together and assess required collective action. Make it easier and more efficient. “If I do X, Y will happen.”