Defining the metadata for your experiment

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Choosing metadata

For an introduction to metadata in LabTrove, see Using metadata.

You need to be consistent about the metadata that you use for your research project or Notebook. The metadata will need to be tailored to your project, but teams and individuals that are undertaking the same research goals or experiment types should benefit from a consistent metadata design. Coming up with a good design in advance for your metadata might be difficult, but it is easier than changing all the metadata later on, or adding metadata to a Notebook that doesn't use it.

You can try out your metadata design by creating a new Entry containing the different keys and values. You could also create a Entry for each different Entry type you expect to use, and add key-value pair metadata that is relevant to that type of Entry.

Editing metadata

You can change the names or values for metadata that are displayed in the right hand navigation menu by editing the content within the Entries. if all Entries that refer to a Section or key heading are changed to remove that name, the name is removed from the navigation menu. To change the name of a Section or key heading you must update every Entry to which the metadata is linked. It is easier to make these changes early in the life of the Notebook when there are not many posts to update.

Choosing Sections

Each Entry must be added to one Section. The Section is useful for indicating what type of Entry you are writing. Create distinct categories for your Sections:

  • Select broad, easily-understood categories (preferably from a shared list)
  • Choose non-overlapping categories

You might need to create extra Sections as time goes on and as more Entrys are added. For example, if the activities in the project change or new techniques are explored.

Choosing keys

Each post can be assigned metadata key-pair values. These metadata items are useful for organizing your posts and making them easier to find. Unlike Sections, you can assign multiple key-value pairs as metadata for your Entries. The following list provides some suggestions for choosing keys and selecting associated values:

  • Select broad categories to use as keys
  • Define a number of values to divide each key into meaningful sub-categories
  • Create categories that represent different ways of searching. For example, instrument and material.
  • Plan your metadata so that each category contains a manageable number of blog posts:
    • Avoid creating keys that are too broad, if most of your Entries fit into one or two categories it will be difficult to search through them to find your data.
    • Avoid creating overly specific keys. If you have a very large number of keys with only one or two values the navigation menu can become very complex, and it will be more difficult to find your data.

Creating consistent metadata

Metadata is very valuable for ensuring consistent data collection and recording for teams, and also helping to link together work being done one related topics. Defining and standardising your metadata and sharing across the team prevents the introduction of inconsistencies. It also makes it easier to use because individuals do not need to create their own metadata designs and the intri The following is a list of tips for creating consistent metadata in teams:

  • Create or use a Template Entry to define consistent metadata for the team or group.
  • Define a standard list of Sections appropriate for your project or area.
  • If these are not included in your Section list, create a metadata key for the experimental activity or stage, and define a standard list of values.
  • Create metadata keys and standard values for items like:
    • Instruments
    • Reagents
    • Materials
    • Methods
  • Create metadata keys and standard values for departmental metadata such as sample IDs, experiment codes, batch numbers, and references.

There are some standard vocabularies that can be used to help, for example:

  • Properties Ontology (ChemAxiomProp) – 150+ chemical and materials properties
  • Measurement Techniques (ChemAxiomMetrology) – 200+ measurement techniques

See: http://semanticscience.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/chemaxiom-an-ontology-for-chemistry-2-the-set-up/)

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