Metadata Definition in Registries: What Is a Data Element?
Jürgen Stausberg, Sonja Harkener, Markus Burgmer, Christoph Engel, Robert Finger, Carsten Heinz, Ekkehart Jenetzky, David Martin, Rüdiger Rupp, Martin Schoenthaler, Christian Schuld, Barbara Suwelack, Jeannine Wegner
Observational research benefits from a rich methodological foundation of registry development and operation published in international and national guidelines. Metadata management is an essential part of registry implementation based on concepts of data elements and value sets. The metadata from six German registries revealed vastly divergent interpretations of the concept of data elements. The different perspectives of research questions, data acquisition and data storage were all represented in the registries’ catalogs of data elements. Consequently, the whole life cycle of a registry needs to be accompanied by a catalog of data elements, which has to be continuously adapted to the changing perspectives. A standard for the representation of those metadata is still missing. The FAIR Guiding Principles introduce important methodological requirements, but the tools for their fulfillment in respect to the management of metadata are still in its infancy.
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