In the academic world, journal publishers, institution databases, and professional research societies & associations use descriptive data to provide additional details about their research content. Descriptive data helps describe the research work and keeps track of it or keeps a record of the enormous amount of research data. The article's discoverability increases when this descriptive data is searchable on the internet through various websites and links. It helps readers arrive on the journal publisher's website and retrieve the content from their database effortlessly. That way, the research article gains increased readership, citations, more traffic to the website, and ultimately results in enhanced exposure and visibility.
This descriptive data is known as "Metadata," whose standard definition is “data about the data” where it gives critical information about the research content. The scholarly publishing industry is producing more content and data every year. Thus, we have an excess of data that cannot be read or consumed by a human alone. That’s when metadata comes into play.
The role of metadata is to enhance the value of existing data by giving it a proper context to land safely in the right place. For journals and publishers, the metadata primarily contains the crucial details about the research work including the journal's ISSN, researcher/authors’ name, date of publication, and other keywords. Most publishers follow the practice of maintaining metadata. However, increasing the journal's visibility further, "Better Metadata" or "Rich Metadata" has become a sure-shot compulsion lately. Also, the benefits of using machine-readable metadata to scholarly outputs are growing immensely.
The other factor that increases the journal's visibility and awareness is exposing the metadata. The exposing of metadata means facilitating the portals, websites aggregators, and search engines to find the content effortlessly. It helps the potential users assess the authenticity of resources first hand. Further, it improves the visibility in search engines such as Google, Google Scholar and directs traffic and business to the website.
Overall, a publisher striving for the success and credibility of its journal could easily comprehend the value of creating a solid metadata ecosystem. It aids in expanding and boosting the journal's discoverability, acceptance, and chances of monetary gains.
Now that we have understood the fundamental definition of metadata and the true meaning of exposing metadata. Let us explore metadata more in the following section.
Metadata and its role in the publishers’ lifecycle
Metadata is the collection of data that provides details about the research content. It condenses basic information about the research article and allows easy discoverability and usability. Further, it answers the questions readers might have regarding - who, what, where, when, and why for a specific research article.
In a broader view, metadata describes the structure, elements, characteristics, and interrelationships of the research articles and the stored electronic data. Apart from this, metadata in a standard format enables data interoperability, enhances the quality of the research content, and accelerates greater use of the data.
For journals or publishers, metadata quality is as important as the research work or content quality. It is a big deal for academic journal articles to have high-quality machine-readable metadata. The most significant reason lies in the discoverability of the article or journal on the search results. Web browsers and scholarly indexes use these machine-readable metadata to show the most relevant journal articles to the audience. Thus, the main goal of metadata is to provide necessary context automatically and systematically to the publisher as well as the reader.
Benefits and Classification of Metadata
Metadata plays a vital role in the publishers’ lifecycle by providing structured data and helps to rank higher on the search engine and thus enhancing the visibility of both journal and the research work.
Let’s have a proximal look at the benefits of metadata;
- It allows the journals, research contents, and articles to be readily available at most search results and web portals.
- It helps in journal promotions by exposing the metadata via portals, websites aggregators, and search engines.
- If it is easily accessible, it serves the proper purpose to its audience and discovers new territories and markets for the publisher.
- It enhances the interoperability of the journal articles.
- It drives traffic, sales, and business to the journals' websites.
- If publishers expose their rich metadata, journals' popularity would scale up and reach new readers, attract more submissions, and enhance their overall reputation.
Metadata can be classified into two types:
- Core Metadata
- Enhanced Metadata.
Core metadata includes the basic yet the most important details like journal article's title, researcher's name, price data, ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and publishers’ information. If these basic core metadata are inaccurate or not present, it leads to adverse consequences for the publisher. Every component of the core metadata plays a pivotal role in the visibility or discoverability of a journal, and the lack of metadata would be challenging for the audience to find the article.
Enhanced metadata includes the details and information about the article and journal, which are optional, namely the researcher's background, reviews, and comments. This class of metadata helps improve search engine optimization, website traffic, and article readership. Enhanced metadata plays a role in convincing the readers and audience to subscribe to a particular journal.
Impact of metadata on the publisher's growth
If a publisher invests time and capital in expanding and improving the quality of machine-readable metadata, then it yields high returns on that investment. And, the business scales up, profits start pouring in, and the overall outlook of the journal changes in the eyes of the readers. The trust also increases, signifying a stamp of authority. However, they tend to differ from journal to journal. Better metadata is equivalent to good business and an excellent reputation in the scholarly publishing industry. The metadata's values are classification and information security for the journal articles—it aids in overall reader satisfaction and information accessibility. When publishers start working on the creation of rich metadata, it would increase the effectiveness of the journal while reducing the cost and time taken to publish a journal.
Some of the publishers use internal XML tag sets to model the journal articles to JATS for an effortless deposit and interchange of data. JATS (Journal Article Tag Suite) is an XML tag set designed to 'model' journal articles. It can store rich, extensive metadata with each journal article. This serves the purpose of data mining, context-sensitive searchability, and semantic interchange between publishers, archives, repositories, and libraries. Since JATS XML are semantic, declarative, customizable, and convertible to any other files, publishers can modernize their production workflow and convert files into any other forms.
And now, publishers are using automated tools for the flawless and automated conversion to JATS XML files. For example, Typeset assists you in making highly efficient publication workflows by providing structured data and automatically converting author submissions to machine-readable file formats, such as JATS XML, ePUB, HTML, etc., that contain rich metadata required for Academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO).
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Rich Metadata is as valuable as Data
As we move forward into an AI-dominated world, the importance of metadata rises significantly and becomes more valuable than data itself. Due to machine learning and artificial intelligence, automated applications will be an everyday affair. The advanced systems will easily track better metadata, reducing the time and human efforts. As data loses its value and meaning to its abundance throughout, metadata becomes a driving force by combining itself with the data. It delivers datasets, insights, and information that enhances visibility and reaches the right person. Metadata also reduces the chances of a security breach and theft of the original data.
In this age of globalization and rapid technological transformation, publishers are pressurizing on an enormous amount of data management. Rich metadata is the solution for journal publishers as it helps to find the data and anticipate what the data is all about. Metadata is constantly proliferating and becoming ever more interconnected & interoperable. It plays an instrumental role in the different phases of the research content lifecycle. Also, it gets involved in the research process, including content capture, creation, and organization.
Thus, metadata is the most efficient and effective way for journal publishers to increase scholarly content visibility and awareness. It is the head honcho for the publishers in the digital age and indispensable for the journal's discoverability and reputation.