The COVID-19 pandemic reveals the importance of metadata standards

“For all those who publish original data, provide a clear description of your data” says Max Roser, program director of “Our World in Data”, a global database on testing for COVID-19 from the University of Oxford.

The COVID-19 crisis has painfully highlighted the importance of maximizing the reusability of data. Descriptions of data are known as metadata. It is an unglamorous corner of science, but metadata standards are vital infrastructure.

In a Nature Scientific Data commentary, the authors raise the important issue of making contextual genomic data FAIR, in order to answer key data-driven biological questions.

Describing the who, what, how, where and when of genomic data enables comparative analysis, informs public health responses, drives assessment of outbreak progression and reveals variation in the host-specificity, modes of transmission, and sample collection protocols.

This paper shows excellent examples of the need for documents like the RDA Covid-19 recommendations, to which DTL has contributed.

Read the paper here.

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