Abstract: Objective – This study uses quantitative methods to determine if the metadata requirements of institutional repositories (IRs) promote data discovery. This question is addressed through an exploration of an international sample of university IRs, including an analysis of the required metadata elements for data deposit, with a particular focus on how these metadata support discovery of research data objects.
Methods – The researchers worked with an international universe of 243 IRs. A codebook of 10 variables was developed to enable analysis of the eventual randomly derived sample of 40 institutions.
Results – The analysis of our sample IRs revealed that most had metadata standards that offered weak support for data discovery—an unsurprising revelation in view of the fact that university IRs are meant to accommodate deposit and storage of all types of scholarly outputs, only a small percentage of which are research data objects. Most IRs seem to have adopted metadata standards based on the Dublin Core schema, while none of the IRs in our sample used the Data Documentation Initiative metadata that is better suited for deposit and discovery of research datasets.
Conclusion – The study demonstrates that while data deposit can be accommodated by the existing metadata requirements of multi-purpose IRs, their metadata practices do little to prioritize data deposit or to promote data discovery. Evidence indicates that data discovery will benefit from additional metadata elements.