Planning, Preparation and Submission of Data

This page contains information and tools that will guide the planning and preparation of data and metadata for archiving. Templates are provided for preparing and submitting data to the Forest Science Data Bank (FSDB). The following topics are described:

Metadata Description

Metadata is a component of data which describes the data. It is "data about data." Metadata describes the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data. Without proper documentation a data set is incomplete.

Why Is Metadata a Vital Component of a Data Set? Documenting data is critical to preserving its usefulness throughout time. This documentation, or metadata, serves several functions; for instance, metadata records are important information on how the data were collected and/or processed. Metadata is frequently utilized as a record in search systems so that users can locate data sets of interest. In the future, analytic tools will assess metadata to determine whether one data set can be properly compared or processed with another.

Submitting Research Databases

What is a Database? A Database consists of one or more data tables, GIS layer(s), remote sensing image(s) and metadata (documentation). Structured and comprehensive metadata are necessary to support database archival and retrieval, the functional re-use of the data both by owners and secondary users, and data quality control. The Forest Science Data Bank (FSDB) requires complete documentation for long-term maintenance and distribution of study databases. Metadata elements requested in this guide are generally consistent with national standards for metadata, specifically the Ecological Metadata Language (EML) and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).

Primary steps for preparing and submitting study metadata and data

  1. Contact one of the Andrews Forest Information Managers to establish a database code for your study data.
  2. Provide Study Description metadata (Database Level Information). This metadata documents general information about a study (title, abstract, purpose, dates, methods, site characteristics, etc.)
  3. Provide Database Table or GIS information
    1. Provide Database Table metadata (Entity and Attribute Level Information). This metadata defines the individual data tables (entities) and describes the specific variable fields within each table (attributes).
    2. Provide Geographic Information System (GIS) metadata (Spatial Reference Information). This metadata documents information related specifically to ESRI GIS data layers.)

Online metadata entry forms are available for the Database Level Information. Detailed instructions are provided in the PDF file below. Login to the LTER Administrative Web Page to Update Metadata for your studies. Contact an information manager if you are unsure of your login credentials. Entity and Attribute Level Information should be provided using the Excel template provided below.

Download Guide and Templates:

  • Metadata Instructions (PDF), a guide with instructions of where and how to begin documenting a database. This guide provides detailed descriptions for writing the documentation for both the "Database Level Information" and the "Entity and Attribute Level Information
  • Database Level Information (Word document), a template for entering the "Database Level Information". This information can be entered directly by using the Administrative Interface (the guide describes the interface). However, it is recommended to enter metadata using the provided template, which provides a backup of your metadata, and then copy and paste from the form into the interface. The interface does time out after a few minutes of inactivity.
  • Entity and Attribute Level Information (Excel workbook), a template for documenting "Entity and Attribute Level Information". This workbook contains worksheets for documenting the specific attributes and codes within a database. The "Table of Contents" tab describes the workbook and the process. See Example for a specific example that shows the data and how they are described.
    • Unit Dictionary - a reference for unit of measurement codes to associate with range attributes.

Spatial data instructions are available through Spatial Data Documentation Guidelines

For questions and clarification please contact the Forest Science Data Bank Information Manager.

Andrews LTER Preferred Keyword Lists

Theme keywords: Theme keywords for all information products (i.e., databases, publications, analytical tools and photos) should be selected using the preferred theme keyword list linked below. The list is hierarchical and includes 33 top-level keywords (categories), second-level descriptive keywords, and third-level finely-detailed keywords. Keywords should be selected from all representative top-level categories. Top-level keywords are often too vague and second-level keywords are generally better suited to represent an information product. Fine-grained third-level keywords can be used when appropriate. New keywords can be added to the list, if needed. Please inform the Information Manager if any additions are needed.


Place keywords: Place keywords for all information products (i.e., databases, publications, analytical tools and photos) should be selected using the preferred place keyword list linked below. The preferred list includes general locations or land designations such as state, county, or National Forest, Experimental Forest, watershed, river basin, RNA, etc, and generally does not include specific site locations. The Andrews place keyword list is hierarchic in structure with Oregon regions nested within Oregon, Pacific Northwest, and United States. Specific site locations will be added for each study by the Information Manager based on enumerated domains of place-based (location) attributes. Please inform the Information Manager if any additions are needed.

Submitting Images to the Image Library

We have created some guidelines which make submitting images to the image library much more streamline. Images must be documented with at least a title, description, photographer, and date. Several documents are available in a zip file. The zip file contains a WORD document called PhotoScan.doc that explains what is required. Other files in the zip include an Excel template for filling out the documentation and a database template for those that have access to Fox Pro.


Please send your Andrews Forest related publications (an electronic PDF) to. Also, please remember to acknowledge the Andrews Forest or the Andrews LTER in the acknowledgement section of your paper. Suggested text can be found under "Acknowledgements".

Data Management Plans

For information and resources on how to write a data management plan for a grant proposal, please visit the OSU Libraries Research Data Services within the Center for Digital Scholarship and Services.