Because good research needs good data

Physical Science

Metadata standards

AVM - Astronomy Visualization Metadata

A standard defining discovery metadata for fully rendered astronomical imagery.

CIF - Crystallographic Information Framework

An extensible standard file format and set of protocols for the exchange of crystallographic and related structured data.

CSMD-CCLRC Core Scientific Metadata Model

A study-data oriented model that captures high-level information about scientific studies and the data that they produce, primarily tailored for the physical sciences.

FITS - Flexible Image Transport System

Used by the astronomy community to originally describe telescope images, but is now a family of standards to describe multi-dimensional data including spatial, spectral and temporal dimensions and the scaling and distortions that may be present.

International Virtual Observatory Alliance Technical Specifications

A set of specifications, including metadata standards, that enable the integration of many astronomical archives into an international virtual observatory.


NeXus is an international standard for the storage and exchange of neutron, x-ray, and muon experiment data.

Observations and Measurements

This standard specifies an XML implementation for the OGC and ISO Observations and Measurements (O&M) conceptual model, including a schema for Sampling Features.

PDBx/mmCIF – Protein Data Bank Exchange Dictionary and the Macromolecular Crystallographic Information Framework

PDBx/mmCIF is the standard archive format used by the Protein Data Bank (PDB). It provides both metadata and data according to properties defined in the PDB Exchange Dictionary and the Macromolecular Crystallographic Information Framework (mmCIF).

SDAC - Standard for Documentation of Astronomical Catalogues

Used as an alternative to FITS for archiving astronomical data in a form that is more accessible to humans and standard Unix command-line tools.

SPASE Data Model

An information model for describing the elements of the heliophysics data environment.


eBank UK Metadata Application Profile

A Dublin Core Metadata Application Profile created for the eBank UK project, which provides access to the detailed results of scientific experiments in crystallography.

FITS World Coordinate System (WCS)

An extension of FITS that enables data to be defined to specify physical, or world coordinates within each pixel in an image. The conventions were orignally proposed in 2002 then incorporated into the 3.0 release of the FITS standard.

IMPEx Data Model

A simulation extention to the SPASE data model.

Resource Metadata for the Virtual Observatory

Defines metadata terms and concepts necessary for discovery and use of astronomical data collections and services.

The extension is based on Dublin Core, but with astronomy-specific extensions. Resource Metadata are collected in resource "registries" that are populated and synchronized using the OAI-PMH (Protocol for Metadata Handling). Version 1.12, March 2007. Developed and maintained by IVOA Resource Registry Working Group and NVO Metadata Working Group

TIDCC - Towards an International Data Commons for Crystallography

A profile of the CSMD model for Australian crystallographic data.

WMO Core Metadata Profile

The World Meteorological Organisation, WMO, has defined a restrictive subset of ISO19115 appropriate for global meteorogical use.


AVM Adobe Metadata Panels

A set of metadata panels that can be added to Adobe Creative Suite 4 applications to allow AVM-compliant metadata to be entered directly into images.

AVM Web Tool

A web-based tool for assembling an AVM-compliant XMP packet for insertion into an image file.


A tool to generate the geometrical setup for various electronic structure codes from a CIF file.

FITS Image Software Packages
Software packages that display or manipulate the relatively simple class of FITS data files that containing 2-dimensional images
GAVO DaCHS - Data Center Helper Suite

The software that underlies the German Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (GAVO), packaged so that it can be used to set up other Virtual Observatory-compliant data centres.


A metadata storage service that implements CSMD Version 2.5 to record information about physical science experiments.


A sister project of ICAT, consisting of a suite of CSMD-based software tools designed to support derived data management in the scientific research process.

IUCr checkCIF

A tool used to check the integrity and cosistency of crystal structure encodings in CIF format.

PDBx/mmCIF Software Resources

Parsing, validation, and visualization tools and libraries supporting PDBx/mmCIF, the data standard used by the Worldwide Protein Data Bank.


A tool for publishing astronomical data files as online databases suitable for integration into the international Virtual Observatory.

SDAC Tools

A set of four tools for working with SDAC-compliant archives: acut can be used to edit text files in a columnar fashion; trcol removes or transforms columns from a text file; anafile verifies that data files conform to their description; tofits converts SDAC tables to FITS tables.

Software for CIF

The International Union of Crystallography's list of programs and libraries available for use with CIF files.

SOS -Sensor Observation Service

This tool uses the Observations and Measurements standard to define a Web service interface which allows querying observations, sensor metadata, as well as representations of observed features.

SPASE Metadata Editor

A web-based editor for generating SPASE descriptions.


The SPASE website's list of tools for working with SPASE metadata and the SPASE framework.

Use Cases

American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database

A CIF crystal structure database that includes every structure published in the American Mineralogist, The Canadian Mineralogist, European Journal of Mineralogy and Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, as well as selected datasets from other journals.

Aus-VO - Australian Virtual Observatory

An initiative to provide a distributed, uniform interface to the data archives of Australia's major astronomical observatories, and to archives of astrophysical simulations, as part of the international Virtual Observatory.

Cambridge Structural Database

A repository of small molecule crystal structures, many with accompanying CIF files.

CDS - Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg

CDS (Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg/Strasbourg astronomical Data Centre) is a member of the ICSU World Data System, specialising in astronomical data and related information. Its VizieR catalogue system uses SDAC to organise data and metadata holdings.


A Web-based service for searching for and visualizing chemical structures. It uses data from the Protein Data Bank that has been transformed to RDF.

Crystallography Open Database

An open-access collection of crystal structures of organic, inorganic, metal-organic compounds and minerals, many of which are in CIF form.

CSMD Pilot Studies

A desk study of CSMD implementation in two facilities: the UK National Crystallography Service and the ISIS Neutron Source.

eCrystals Federation Project

An archive for crystal structures generated by the Southampton Chemical Crystallography Group and the EPSRC UK National Crystallography Service; its metadata conforms to the eBank UK Dublin Core Profile.

ESA - European Space Agency

ESA is an international organisation with 20 Member States that coordinates the financial and intellectual resources of it's members to facilitate space related programmes and activities. Image data is released using FITS for many missions.

Euro-VO - European Virtual Observatory

A project to integrate and enable data analysis techniques over the astronomical archives of Europe, as part of the international Virtual Observatory. 


The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is the primary archive for NASA's (and other space agencies') missions dealing with electromagnetic radiation from extremely energetic phenomena ranging from black holes to the Big Bang.

ICAT Implementations

The ICAT website's list of the facilities and organisations usingthe CSMD-based ICAT software.

INSPIRE - Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe
A Spatial Data Infrastructure, whose scope includes the basic spatial information, as well as measured, modelled or simulated data.
IVOA - International Virtual Observatory Alliance

The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) is an organisation that debates and agrees to technical standards that are needed to make the Virtual Observatory possible. FITS is one of those standards.

JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Japan's independent administrative institution that handles research and development in space and aviation areas.

National Science Digital Library Data Repository

An online portal for education and research on learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, using a profile of the Dublin Core Metadata Elements for resource and collections metadata.


The National Space Science Data Center's registry of SPASE-described space science mission data.

SPASE Inside

The SPASE website's list of systems that use SPASE compliant metadata to enable search services.

Spitzer Space Telescope Website

The image gallery for the Spitzer Space Telescope employs AVM within its content management system, and all the images have AVM tags embedded within them.

US Virtual Astronomical Observatory

An initiative to integrate astronomical archives and provide associated research capabilities in the United States as part of the international Virtual Observatory.

Virtual Solar Observatory
Worldwide Protein Data Bank

The Protein Data Bank archive (PDB) is a worldwide archival repository of information about the 3D structures of proteins, nucleic acids, and complex assemblies. The Worldwide PDB (wwPDB) organization manages the PDB archive and ensures that the PDB is freely and publicly available to the global community.