Answers to Metadata and Dataset Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is metadata for?

    Metadata describes important information about a dataset, such as where, when and who collected the data. Metadata (ideally) also provides a direct link to an online copy of the dataset.

    The metadata standard used by the Australian Antarctic Data Centre - and by the entire Antarctic Community - is the Directory Interchange Format (DIF) maintained by the Global Change Master Directory (GCMD).

    Metadata is used for two purposes:

    1. To locate data;
    2. To describe datasets in such a way that anyone should be able to use the data.

  2. How do I create, edit, or delete my metadata records?

    Metadata records can either be created/edited online (preferred) or offline. The online tool can be accessed here, and the offline template can be downloaded here.

    Metadata records can only be deleted by request. Should you wish to delete a metadata record, please request assistance using the "Support" tab on the Data Centre website.

  3. What is the Antarctic Master Directory?

    The Antarctic Master Directory (AMD) is a large metadata database maintained by the Global Change Master Directory. It contains metadata records from the National Antarctic Data Centres (NADCs) of each of the Antarctic Treaty nations. Data from each of the NADCs are available via their national portals ( (look under the heading "Cryosphere").

    Search for records in the Antarctic Master Directory.
    Enter metadata records directly into the AMD.

  4. I have found a metadata record of the dataset I am looking for, how can I access the data?

    Once you have found the metadata record, for example (, then on the right-hand side of the page you will see a box for "Datasets and documents". If data are available online they will be linked here.

  5. Are my data protected in the same way as a research paper?

    Yes. Other researchers are required to cite your data in the same way that they would reference a paper.

    See the point below on "How do other researchers reference my data?" for more information.

  6. Do my data have to be made publicly available immediately?

    No. The Australian Antarctic program data policy provides clear guidelines on this ( Essentially you will be given a grace period during which you will be given time to publish your data first.

  7. How do I send my data to the AADC?

    If your data files are less than 30 MB in size, then you can use our online tool "Submit your data" to send them to us ( Larger files can be transferred using applications such as Dropbox or Cloudstor. Log a "Support" request via our website if you require assistance.

  8. How should I organise my data?

    There is no standard answer to this question. All data collections are different, and therefore should be organised in a way that makes sense for that particular dataset. Data may be organised by site, year, voyage and so on. Data collections may be split into sub-collections, each of which will require its own metadata record.

    Data should be submitted to the Australian Antarctic Data Centre in common formats where possible, rather than little-used proprietary standards. Care should also be taken to properly explain acronyms, abbreviations, units, column headings, etc.

  9. What's a DOI?

    A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is a persistent identifier that can be used to permanently identify your dataset. This makes your data easily citable, and allows the tracking of the re-use of your dataset within data citation indexes. To obtain a DOI for your dataset, you must:

    - Ensure that you have already created a metadata record to describe your dataset and that your data have been provided to the AADC for archiving. Contact the AADC metadata officer ( for assistance or advice.

    - Let the metadata officer know that you would like a DOI! Although, typically DOIs will be automatically assigned to new datasets as a matter of course. If there’s an existing dataset that does not have a DOI already, you can request one via the “Request DOI” link, which can be found at the top right of the metadata record for each dataset. You can search for metadata via the search tool below.

  10. How do other researchers reference my data?

    In order for other researchers to reference your dataset, it must be correctly catalogued with a metadata record. The metadata record tells other researchers where to find your dataset and provides a direct link between it and your details.

    Metadata records are referenced in the same way that scientific papers are and citation information is provided at the top of every metadata record found on the Data Centre website.

    Furthermore, the Data Centre recommends that datasets be assigned a Dataset DOI, which enables easier citation of data. Applications such as the Data Citation Index can then track dataset DOIs to provide you with an idea of how much your data are being reused. The Data Centre is authorised to assign Dataset DOIs.