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Data Services

Data Management Services assists Brandon researchers with the organization, management, and curation of research data to enhance its preservation and access now and into the future

Metadata and Best Practices 

The Section of this guide called: Elements of a DMP: Metadata, discussed Metadata, Metadata Standards and Ontologies.

It also (1) addressed why Metadata is important and (2) highlighted some key Metadata elements for use with data sets. 

As Metadata makes your data both useful and discoverable; and as the nature of your data can change over time; it is important to ensure the metadata is applicable to data sets as they evolve.  

You should also be aware that there are tools researchers can use to aid with Metadata creation.  They are discussed below as they can facilitate with best practices.

Metadata Tools

A number of free tools are available for metadata creation. Some of them help you select controlled vocabularies to include in your documentation, while others combine that functionality with a fully-supported metadata schema.

The Digital Curation Centre (UK) has an extensive list of Metadata tools that are worth looking at; as does DataOne.  These organizations are focused on Data Management. 


Similarly, Stanford University provides a list of useful metadata tools, most of which are Open Source.  Below you will find brief descriptions of several of these tools, along with links to download and installation instructions, documentation, tutorials, and user guides. You can even check out their feature comparison chart that provides additional information to help you find the right tool to fit your particular project, platform, and needs.


Annotare is a forms-based software for annotating biomedical investigations and resulting data. It supports biomedical ontologies, contains standard templates for common experimental types, and includes a design wizard for creating your own forms.

CEDAR Workbench

CEDAR Workbench is an open source tool to manage metadata, using rigorous semantic principles if desired. It allows users to specify templates using a UI (like survey forms in Google Forms or Survey Monkey), then to fill out those forms efficiently using drop-down menus, help tips, and intelligent suggestions. Templates and metadata can be shared with other users and groups. Metadata also can be downloaded in JSON-LD, simple JSON, or RDF, or exported to connected repositories, which can be integrated using the full API suite.

ISA Creator

ISA Creator is an open source, stand-alone application that assists with planning and describing experiments and facilitates export and import of data directly to and from some public repositories. Additional tools are available in the ISA-Tools software suite for parsing ISA-Tab into R data structures and for parsing PERL and Python for ISA-Tab. ISA-Tab is the required format for publishing data in Nature Publishing's Scientific Data journal. This software creates separate descriptive files for your experimental files.


Morpho allows you to describe ecological experiments and to create a catalog of data and descriptions that you can query. It includes an interface to the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) for sharing, querying, viewing, and retrieving data. 


OMERO is repository software for importing, viewing, organizing, describing, analyzing, and sharing microscopy images from anywhere you have Internet access. It includes the ability to create user groups with different permissions for sharing data.


OntoMaton provides ontology searching and automated tagging via NCBO's Bioportal of biomedical ontologies within Google spreadsheets. OntoMaton is part of the ISA-Tools suite. Annotations are generated within your tabular data file.


RIghtField is an open source tool that allows searching and selecting of ontology terms from within Microsoft Excel. RightField allows you to assign a pre-determined list of options to a particular cell within the spreadsheet. All annotations are embedded within the spreadsheet. The user can select from the NCBO's BioPortal ontologies or import an ontology from a URL or your local machine.

Adapted from:

Stanford Libraries, Research Support, Data Management Services.  “Metadata Tools”.  Accessed February 23, 2021,