Metadata development

Metadata Development for the SANREM Knowledge Base

Submitted by: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Funding Period: 01/30/05-06/30/06

Principal Investigators:

  • Dr. Conrad Heatwole, Associate Professor
  • Dr. Eugene Yagow, Research Scientist
  • Dr. Brian Benham, Assistant Professor
  • Margaret Merrill, College Librarian for Agriculture


In order to strengthen the effectiveness and impact of the SANREM CRSP, it is necessary to improve the availability and accessibility of the extensive library of digital and print resources that document prior SANREM activities. Finding and accessing digital or print resources is facilitated by having metadata that accurately summarize and categorize each resource. Such metadata typically include bibliographic information, subject headings, keywords, and other attributes that classify the material. The outcome of this project will be an enhanced ability to access accumulated knowledge from previous SANREM projects and an improved structure for organizing, managing and communicating knowledge generated in future SANREM activities.


In order to support the overall SANREM mission of effective knowledge dissemination in the domain of sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, this project will:

  1. Define a metadata structure for SANREM resources that will facilitate the accessibility and dissemination of materials;
  2. Catalog existing SANREM resources generated in previous project phases;
  3. Provide a manual that provides guidance for those defining and using these metadata in the future.


The SANREM website from the previous phase of the project contains more than two gigabytes of articles, reports, photos, presentations, and other digital resources that currently lack metadata to enable users to efficiently identify and retrieve useful information. The development of metadata for digital resources on the previous SANREM website will enhance the accessibility of SANREM CRSP efforts.


  1. Provide a permanent or definable reference for resources to be cataloged (e.g. a location in a file structure or filing system) and develop a database that provides a complete representation of the materials in the SANREM library. The procedures for cataloging the resources as defined below have the overall goal of producing metadata that is consistent and that provides appropriate representation of the resources so that they can be efficiently and effectively located and used. The resources to be cataloged in this project are the materials contained on the SANREM website at that are considered to have content of lasting value;
  2. Define the SANREM Knowledge Base metadata template, which provides a core set of terms and descriptors which will be used to create information (metadata) that categorizes and describes resources;
  3. Complete the preliminary cataloging phase;
  4. Produce a catalog with the help of a team of students with interest and experience in international development, sustainable agriculture, and natural resources management, with diversity in relevant background and subject knowledge;
  5. Provide continuous data review, quality assurance, and product delivery. Following completion of the cataloging and data entry, the entire database will be evaluated for consistency and completeness, and recommendations for ongoing cataloging and quality control of the SANREM metadata will be developed;
  6. Develop Metadata Guidance Document. The proposed SANREM Metadata Manual will provide documentation of the SANREM metadata structure and also provide instructions and guidelines on metadata definition for future contributors of SANREM CRSP materials.

Expected Results and Deliverables

This project will deliver a metadata structure for the SANREM Knowledge Base that will facilitate the access and dissemination of materials generated by SANREM activities. A database of the metadata cataloging the historical SANREM resources will greatly enhance the accessibility and utility of previous SANREM CRSP efforts. The project will also recommend procedures for ongoing metadata updating and maintenance. A Metadata Manual will provide a description of the metadata structure and intended contents and provide guidance for those defining metadata in the future.

Student Support and Training Activities

This project will provide support, training, and summer employment for three undergraduate or graduate students. It will also support one graduate research assistant in Biological Systems Engineering. A target of 50 percent of all student hires will be women.