National Estuarine Research Reserve System

Centralized Data Management Office

Explanation of Metadata

An important part of data collection is creating the associated data documentation or metadata. Metadata should explain all aspects of data from the research objectives to the data QA/QC and should be created as each data set is processed. The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) sites are required to submit one metadata file for each of their sampling programs per year in highly standardized formats. For example, NERR sites actively collect water quality, meteorological and nutrient data as part of the System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) therefore they will generate and submit three metadata files to the CDMO to accompany their data submission for that year. Strict QA/QC standards are adhered to in order to ensure standardization and data quality. Data should not be used without referring to the associated metadata first.

Metadata includes the Principal Investigator's (PI) contact information; information about how the data were collected and QAQC'd by the NERR; the research objectives and research methods; information about each sampling location; information about the sensors used to collect the data; additional explanations for suspect, anomalous, or missing data; and any other remarks about the data set that would be valuable to the user in order to interpret and use the data. The associated metadata files are automatically included with every data export or query.

To learn more about the water quality, meteorological, and nutrient parameters collected for the System-wide Monitoring Program, visit the parameter explanation page at

Please contact if you have any questions regarding the data or the QAQC process used.