The 360Giving Data Standard allows funders to describe information about their grants, and provide information about the related organisations, programmes and activities.
It is also possible to publish ‘metadata‘: which is data about the data itself.
This guide explains what metadata is, why it is useful and how you can add metadata to new or existing 360Giving data files.
What is Metadata?¶
In general terms, metadata is data about the data. For example if you listen to music digitally, a music file will contain metadata about the song name, artist, genre, etc. that describes its contents.
In 360Giving, metadata is information about the 360Giving data in the file; such as the size of a file, how many grants it contains and when it was published. Metadata is useful to both people and computers and it helps them to build a picture of the contents of a dataset to understand whether that data might be useful in a particular case, and how to use it.
There are two main types of metadata:
- Authoritative metadata: This is what the file declares about itself, such as who the publisher is, or where the file can be found.
- Derived metadata: This is what can be found out from a file, such as the total value of the grants, or which fields from the 360Giving Data Standard are used. This type of data is not included in the information that is published, instead it can be calculated by tools that use a file, such as the 360Giving Data Registry.
Why include metadata in 360Giving files?¶
Including metadata is one of the features of good quality open data. It helps people to find data that best suits their needs by supporting them to understand what the contents are and if they match what they’re looking for. It also provides publishers the ability to provide valuable context for the data that a user should bear in mind when analysing or using the data.
360Giving Data Standard enables publication of authoritative metadata, which is information you can provide to help users to understand your data better.
This means you can:
- Provide additional information about your organisation or the grant data in the file
- Include links to further guidance
- Include details about how the data is openly licensed
As the metadata is included in the file itself, it means relevant information is provided directly to users of the data, so that the grants and their context can be understood together.
Including metadata in the 360Giving Data Standard means we are better able to serve the needs of publishers and data users.
Including metadata in JSON files¶
For publishers sharing their data in JSON file format, the metadata is declared using the fields of the Package Schema (except for ‘grants‘ field, which contains the list of grant data). See our guidance on the Package schema for further details.
Publishers using CSV (.csv) files¶
Currently it is not possible to include a Meta sheet in CSV files. This is because the file format does not allow for separate sheets within the same file. Please contact 360Giving Helpdesk if you use CSV file format to publish 360Giving data and want to include metadata.
Guide to including metadata in spreadsheet files¶
For publishers sharing data in spreadsheets, the metadata fields are included in a Meta sheet. This means your file would have a sheet for the grant data and one for the metadata.
If you are publishing using Excel or OpenDocument formatted spreadsheet you can add the Meta sheet to your data by following these steps:
1. Add a new sheet to the spreadsheet and rename it ‘Meta‘.
Note that it is important to name the sheet accurately to ensure that the data is recognised by 360Giving tools as metadata.
2. In the first column (usually ‘A’) put the names of the metadata fields you wish to include.
3. In the second column (usually ‘B’) you should fill out the fields with the appropriate values.
Some fields require different types of values such as URLs or dates. The information about data format is also provided in the Meta sheet Table.
4. Once you have filled out the details, you can check whether the formatting is correct by uploading the file into the Data Quality Tool. Follow the feedback to make any changes needed to the metadata before publishing the file. If the Meta sheet is not named correctly the Data Quality Tool will not recognise the metadata and give error messages.
5. Publish the file how you normally do.
This guidance provides further information about the fields in Meta sheet and the kind of data that is expected or appropriate for each.
This is for the version of the 360Giving Data Standard being used, so not the version of the file that is being published. For example the version that introduced metadata into the 360Giving Data Standard is 1.1.
Find the details of the current version in the Releases changelog.
Title and Description
These are text fields that can be used to provide information about the name of the file and its contents, and provide further contextual information if appropriate.
This is the date the file was first published. This means the date should remain the same even if the contents of the file are changed. This must be a full date in YYYY-MM-DD or date-time format.
This is the date when the file was last modified. This means the date should be updated each time the contents of the file are changed. This is important because if a user has several copies of the file, an accurate Modified date will quickly tell them which is the most recent one.
This must be a full date in date-time format. See the Dates and Times section for further guidance on date and date-time formats.
This is a unique identifier for the file. This can be a combination of your 360G-prefix and name or reference number for the file e.g. 360G-ExampleFunder-grants-2019-2020.
Publisher:Identifier and Publisher:Name
The Publisher identifier is a globally unique identifier for this organisation. The Organisation Identifier Standard guidance explains how to create this Org ID.
If the publisher is also the funding organisation described in the 360Giving grant data, the Org ID used will be the same.
Publisher:Website and Publisher:Logo
These are links to a relevant website and where a logo can be viewed.
All website links must start with http:// or https:// to be recognised as a valid URI. For example: “example.com“ or “www.example.com“ are incorrect but “http://example.com“ or “http://www.example.com“ are valid.
Download URL and Access URL
These are links to where the data can be downloaded and webpage where the data can be found.
These fields are included as part of best practice, and would enable a data user to retrieve a fresh version of the original file.
It can be difficult to know what these links will be ahead of time. If possible, aim to upload the file to a stable location where the URL won‘t change, and to include it in your metadata as soon as you do know it.
If it is not possible to know this information before the data is published - or the links are likely to change frequently and so become out of date, these fields can be left blank.
This is the canonical URI of the license that applies to the data in the file or package. This should be a Public Domain Dedication or Open Definition Conformant license.
For further details see our guidance about open licensing.
Example Meta sheet¶
This table provides example values for each field in the Meta sheet to demonstrate how these can be used.
|Field name||Example value|
|Title||Example Funder grants awarded 2021-22|
|Description||Spreadsheet of all grants awarded from April 2020 to March 2021|
How to handle blank fields¶
The inclusion of metadata in 360Giving data is recommended but optional, and all of the fields in the Meta sheet themselves are optional. This means if they are not being used they should be either left blank or removed from the Meta sheet.
Only the relevant information using the correct data formatting should be included in Metadata fields. Do not fill blank fields with dashes, N/A or other content as it will cause errors.
How to include additional information in Meta sheet¶
In both the 360Giving Data Standard and Meta sheet, it is possible to include additional information alongside the official fields in the schema.
This could be contact information, disclaimer text or anything else you want users to know about your data. However these fields will not be recognised by the Data Quality Tool so you will need to ensure that the information provided is formatted correctly.
Also be aware to avoid special characters in the field names. See guidance on adding Additional fields for further details of what to consider when adding your own fields.
Making updates to metadata¶
Some 360Giving data files are published and remain unchanged from that date. However many publishers share files that are updated to add new grant data on a regular basis and, in some cases, to make amendments to information that has already been published. Similarly the metadata originally published in a file may need to be updated if and when the contents of the data changes.
- The contents of some fields are expected to remain unchanged even when the grant data is updated or changed. These are the publisher details, issue date, file identifier and license.
- The contents of other fields are expected to be more dynamic. The Modified date should be updated each time the file contents are changed, to provide users with an accurate understanding of when changes have happened.
- The title and description of files may change as the contents are updated. If the urls to the file and access page change over time, these fields should also be updated to point to the right locations.
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date metadata is as important as the accuracy of the 360Giving data itself.
Other ways to include metadata in 360Giving data¶
As well as being able to include metadata using the Meta sheet, there are also two fields in the main 360Giving Data Standard intended for sharing of metadata, as part of the information about an individual grant.
This is to indicate when the information about a grant was last updated. This is often generated automatically by the software managing or exporting this data, however it can also be used to show when the data in the file was last changed.
This is a web link pointing to the source of this data, which can be the 360Giving data file, a file from which the data was converted, or an organisation website.