EOSC Future Science Project Workshop: Contextual metadata in Life Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities


September 25 2023 | 14.00-15.30 CEST

Within the EOSC Future project, the Science Project META-COVID (for ‘COVID-19 metadata findability and interoperability in EOSC’) engaged 6 Research Infrastructures (RIs) from 2 thematic science clusters (Life Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities) to discuss contextual metadata and develop a framework for a metadata model to characterise contextual metadata in these domains.  

The RIs involved are: 

The objective of this workshop is to discuss contextual metadata and the proposed framework with metadata experts involved in other (EOSC) projects of relevance (e.g. EOSC-Life, BY-COVID, ISIDORe,  EOSC4Cancer, FAIRCORE4EOSC, FAIR-IMPACT), with members of the EOSC Task Force on Semantic Interoperability, with actors involved in the EOSC Interoperability Framework and with relevant RDA WGs (e.g. Metadata Standards Catalogue, FAIRsharing). Metadata experts from other scientific fields will also be invited to explore the generalisability of the framework beyond life sciences and social sciences and humanities.


14:00 Welcome and introduction Maria Panagiotopoulou (ECRIN)
14:10 Importance of contextual metadata Steve Canham (ECRIN)
14:25 Interoperability framework for contextual metadata Christian Ohmann (ECRIN)
14:45 Discussion with workshop participants All participants
15:15 Summary and conclusions Christian Ohmann (ECRIN)
15: 25 Mentimeter session Maria Panagiotopoulou (ECRIN)
15:30 End of the workshop


The workshop is open to anyone who can contribute to the discussion and invitees are warmly welcome to transfer the invitation to relevant colleagues.

Platform: Microsoft Teams, Link to join the meeting



Usually, the focus of metadata annotation is on the research output (e.g., publication, report, dataset). What is often missing is the characterisation of the context in which the research product was generated. The context, such as the type of the research (e.g., hypothesis testing versus hypothesis generating), the methodology chosen (e.g., experimental, survey, cohort, case study) and the research methods applied (e.g., type of sampling), are of major importance in understanding the data generated, and thus in supporting any secondary use of that data. The EOSC Future workshop focuses on this type of metadata. Contextual metadata are referring to a) data about the research process that generated the data, including descriptions of that process and the methodologies used, and b) data about the ‘inputs’ into the research process – e.g., grants, people, organisations, regulators, and research infrastructures and resources.

The problem is that different disciplines have vastly different ways of organising research activities, for instance because of differences in funding models and mechanisms, or in requirements for approval, and thus differences in how and when research is split into discrete activities and labelled. Therefore, major benefit is expected from better structuring and documenting contextual metadata. A higher replicability and reproducibility of research results can be achieved, and misconduct and research waste reduced, tackling one of the major problems raised in the past decades. What is needed is a common generic vocabulary, with which to describe, compare, assess, and discuss metadata schemes and the contextual metadata they support.