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Formal metadata: information and software

Metadata in plain language

What does the data set describe?

How does the data set describe geographic features?

People need to know what attributes of the geographic features are supplied in the data set. The spatial extent of the geographical features is described explicitly by the data; what are the other characteristics of the features such as scientific measurements, identifiers and labels, or characteristics associated with the geographic regions delimited by the features (population within census tracts, for example)?
In spatial data sets, attributes are typically associated with geographic features, although other arrangements are possible. Describe the attributes of each type of feature together, since the attributes of one type of feature are typically contained in one or a few related digital files or tables.
You can describe the features and attributes using a Detailed_Description, which is best, or an Overview_Description. Use an overview only if all of the details of the attribute values are explained in some published source.


      Entity_Type_Label: Name of the feature type or table
      Entity_Type_Definition: What is this feature or table?
      Entity_Type_Definition_Source: Document, if any, that defines this type of feature.
If this type of feature or table isn't defined in some authoritative publication like FIPS 173, and you don't know what to put in Entity_Type_Definition_Source, leave that element out. It is mandatory, but meaningless information is worse than no information.


For each attribute, you should know the attribute's name in the data set, a definition of the attribute, and what values the attribute holds.
      Attribute_Label: Name of the item or attribute
      Attribute_Definition: What information does it provide?
      Attribute_Definition_Source: Document, if any, that defines this attribute.
If this attribute isn't defined in some authoritative publication like FIPS 173, and you don't know what to put in Attribute_Definition_Source, leave that element out.

What sort of values does the attribute hold?

In general, attributes either measure, categorize, or characterize the features or entities they describe.

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