Metadata, or data about data, play a crucial rule in social sciences to ensure that high quality documentation and community knowledge are properly captured and surround the data across its entire life cycle, from the early stages of production to secondary analysis by researchers or use by policy makers and other key stakeholders. The paper provides an overview of the social sciences metadata landscape, best practices and related information technologies. It particularly focuses on two specifications – the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) and the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange Standard (SDMX) – seen as central to a global metadata management framework for social data and official statistics. It also highlights current directions, outlines typical integration challenges, and provides a set of high level recommendations for producers, archives, researchers and sponsors in order to foster the adoption of metadata standards and best practices in the years to come.
Keywords: social sciences, metadata, data, statistics, documentation, data quality, XML, DDI, SDMX, archive, preservation, production, access, dissemination, analysis