Collaboration for Research Enhancement by Active Metadata

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From the project website:

"The CREAM vision is to understand how processes use metadata actively, to improve the curation of the outputs of such processes, thereby to facilitate research that is more agile, more revealing and more reusable."

From Spotlight Data: Jisc RDS Software Projects

"Key project outputs:
  1. The description of the active metadata concept, as currently expressed in our IDCC16 submission: "Using metadata actively”
  2. Examples in Annalist, at varying levels of development, of metadata used in research and creative processes and the insights they provide about how various disciplines conduct their research
  3. Valuable feedback that has informed the ongoing development of Annalist
  4. The "smoke" project: the creative work and a description of the process (Procedural Blending diagrams) by which it was created and through that thinking through metadata in the creative process
  5. Glossary ( - linking different terms from different disciplines that essentially mean the same thing, i.e., a reliable shared language.
  6. The project website, particularly when viewed as an instance of Open Research"

From a synthesis of the projects in the context of the OAIS model, by Jen Mitcham of the Filling the Digital Preservation Gap project

"...the CREAM project (or “Collaboration for Research Enhancement by Active Metadata”) led by the University of Southampton hopes to change the way researchers use metadata. It is looking at how different disciplines capture metadata and how this enhances the data in the long run. They are encouraging dynamic capture of metadata at the point of data creation which is the point at which researchers know most about their data. The project is investigating the use of lab notebooks (not just for scientists) and also looking at templates for metadata to help streamline the research process and enable future reuse of data.
Whilst the key aims of this project do fall within the active data creation phase and thus outside of the OAIS model, they are still fundamental to the success of a digital archive and the value of working in this area is clear. One of the mandatory responsibilities of an OAIS is to ensure the independent utility of the data that it holds. In simple terms this means that the digital archive should ensure that as well as preserving the data itself, it also preserves enough contextual information and documentation to make that data re-usable for its designated community. This sounds simple enough but speaking from experience, as a digital archivist, this is the area that often causes frustration - going back to ask a data producer for documentation after the point of submission and at a time when they have moved on to a new project can be a less than fruitful exercise. A methodology for encouraging metadata generation at the point of data creation and to enable this to be seamlessly submitted to the archive along with the data itself would be most welcome."

Further information

Hyperlinks to further information on the project


Is there potential for collaboration and/or exploiting existing/parallel work beyond the project consortiums? There may be value in exploring synergies with the Pericles Project and their work on the PeriCAT tool.


As Filling the Digital Preservation Gap notes above, this project has the potential to significantly benefit preservation. The focus of the work lies primarily in other areas however, so the analysis in this review work has therefore been minimal.

Project website sustainability checklist

A brief checklist ensuring the project work can be understood and reused by others in the future.

Task Score
Clear project summary on one page, hyperlink heavy 1
Project start/end dates 0
Clear licensing details for reuse 0
Clear contact details 2
Source code online and referenced from website N/A

2=present, 1=partial, 0=missing

Key recommendations

  • Suggest adding project start/end dates, licensing details and missing deliverables to the project website


See all projects | About this work | Jisc Research Data Spring