Best Practices for Dataset Metadata in Ecological Metadata Language (EML)

Best Practices for Dataset Metadata in Ecological Metadata Language (EML Best Practices V3). 2017. Environmental Data Initiative


This document contains current “Best Practice” recommendations for EML content for metadata related to ecological and environmental data. It is intended to augment the EML schema documentation for a less-technical audience. This is one component of several resources available to EML preparers, and related resources are listed below. These recommendations are directed towards the following goals:

  • Provide guidance and clarification in the implementation of EML for datasets
  • Minimize heterogeneity of EML documents to simplify development and re-use of software built to ingest it
  • Maximize interoperability of EML documents to facilitate data synthesis

EML Best Practice recommendations have evolved over time. The most active contributors have been members of the LTER Information Manager’s Committee during multiple working groups (see history, below). EML has been widely used for several years with multiple applications written against it, and the community has had the opportunity to observe the consequences of many content patterns. As much as possible, recommendations have been aligned with the capability of dataset contributors, as well as with those experiences.

At time of this document’s publication (late 2017), the version of EML currently in production was EML.2.1.1. EML 2.2.0 is anticipated within the next year. Contact EDI for more information.

Other EML Resources

EML 2.1.0 schema and normative documentation (2008):

EML Handbook (2003):

Unit dictionary:

Timeline and Previous Revisions

Contributors, including LTER EML Best Practices Working Group, 2003, 2004, 2010: (alphabetical order): Dan Bahauddin, Barbara Benson, Emery Boose, James Brunt, Duane Costa, Corinna Gries, Don Henshaw, Margaret O’Brien, Ken Ramsey, Inigo San Gil, Mark Servilla, Wade Sheldon, Philip Tarrant, Theresa Valentine, John Vande Castle, Kristin Vanderbilt, Jonathan Walsh, Yang Xia