Background/ importance of the research field Managing metadata is one of the core activities of the information professions. It is essential not only to description for discovery or retrieval purposes, but for successful migration of systems and therefore for long-term preservation. 

Metadata for records documents structure, context and relationships among the records, thus providing evidence of authenticity and reliability.

It must also manage access and rights such as copyright, security and privacy and document use, capturing for example information about who has had access to the records and why. It is therefore much more complex than simple descriptive metadata schema like Dublin Core. Anne Gilliland noted:

“Metadata is like interest — it accrues over time. To stretch the metaphor further, wise investments generate the best return on intellectual capital. Carefully designed metadata results in the best information management in the short and long-term (Gilliland, 2008).

However, manual metadata creation is labour-intensive, usually either too slow to be useful or neglected and not done at all. In our digital world it is impossible to keep up using the traditional, manual model of ‘cataloguing’ as a means of producing metadata for records. Metadata systems must be designed so that as much of the required metadata as possible can be automatically captured, both at the time of creation and every use of the records, in order to achieve the aim of self-documenting records.