Gaining Expertise in Creating Metadata: An Exploratory Study
Increasingly, people with little experience of cataloguing, indexing or abstracting are using metadata schemas like the Dublin Core Metadata Elements Set (DC) and the New Zealand Government Locator Service (NZGLS) to describe resources. There is currently little information available about how novices approach the process of metadata creation, and what personal (cognitive) and other factors (particularly organisational) are at work. In this exploratory study, I spoke with novice metadata creators about their skills and knowledge when they began to create metadata and, six weeks later, after they had created records as part of their normal work duties. I asked novices to identify factors that impacted positively or negatively upon their progress, and also sought the opinions of metadata experts who were training and supervising novice creators. The study identified the skills and knowledge that are required to create metadata, and investigated the techniques used to develop expertise. The tools used by metadata creators were evaluated, and the effects of organisational culture were also explored. The insights of the expert and novice participants provide guidance as to how managers can facilitate the production of good quality metadata through developing effective staff training and quality assurance, providing more usable online tools and documentation, and fostering more supportive organisational cultures.