Metadata Options in Digital Commons


Metadata in Digital Commons is added with each record when it is first uploaded to the repository, and records can be revised in the future to add additional metadata, or to make corrections to metadata already captured.

Every submission is enriched by metadata, from a simple article title and abstract, to information such as an identifier, rights statement, or grant number. While the categories may change depending on the collection, each piece is valuable for identifying and managing your institution’s content–and ensuring that visitors are able to retrieve it.

Metadata is used not only to describe content and make it more discoverable, but to streamline integration with other services and organizations. Knowing what options exist for setting up metadata fields in Digital Commons can help you optimize the information captured in your repository.

Flexible Metadata for Each Publication

Digital Commons allows each publication structure to collect and display a different set of metadata. The metadata you might want for a collection of yearbooks isn’t the same as the metadata you might want for a collection of faculty books, and Digital Commons lets you capture these distinctions.

A unique submission form can be used for each publication structure on your repository, and other metadata features, such as the required status of fields, which fields are available only to administrators, or the display order, can be changed on an individual basis as well. You may request these changes to metadata fields when a new structure is first created on your repository or at any time afterwards.

To add, remove, or make changes to metadata fields, contact Consulting Services. You may email us at or call us weekdays at 510-665-1200, option 2, 6:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Metadata Field Basics in Digital Commons

Digital Commons provides a variety of default and custom metadata fields for capturing information about repository submissions. This section describes the choices available to administrators when requesting new metadata fields. Many options may be adjusted for existing metadata fields as well.

For charts of the Digital Commons default fields and metadata options for different publication types, see the files at the bottom of this page.

Field components
  • Field Name: The back-end field name the system uses, which appears on batch upload and batch revise spreadsheets. This may not be changed after a field has been set up. The field name must be in all lowercase, without spaces, and may not begin with a number. Consulting Services can help you choose a field name that is consistent with the other field names in your repository. Some field names may be in use within the Digital Commons system for system-specific needs and may not be used for metadata fields. If you request a field with one of these names, Consulting Services can help select an alternate field name that is not reserved in the system.
  • Display Label: The display label for a field is the version seen by users on the submission form and on the record’s metadata page after it is posted. For example, the field with the field name “title” generally has the display label “Title,” and the field with the name “publication_date” generally has the display label “Publication Date.” The display label may be changed for a field at any time.
  • Input Type: Several options exist to specify which type of input element should be used to capture the data on the submission form. These options may be adjusted for most fields at any time:
    • text: A single-line text box.
    • textarea: A multi-line text box.
    • WYSIWYG: A large text entry box with a set of tools allowing for easy HTML formatting.
    • select: A drop-down list of options, or a multi-select list.
    • fixed: A fixed-value field will not appear on the submission form for either authors or administrators, because it cannot be changed from the default value except in batch revision.
    • checkbox: A small box that is selected with a checkmark when a user clicks on it.
    • radio: Small round buttons that are commonly used for either/or selections.
  • Field Instructions: Field instructions appear on the submission or revision form below the field title and above the input box. They may contain some HTML, and can be changed for most fields anytime.
  • Field Label: The field label appears near the input box on a submission form, as shown in the below screenshot. The field label can be changed for most fields at any time.
  • Default Value: Text fields may contain a default value that is already populated on the submission form when a user loads it. Note that in order for the default value to be saved, it must appear to the user on the submission form, so an editor bypass field (see details below) will not receive default values when authors submit. This setting may be changed for a field at any time.
Additional field options
  • Required Status: Most fields can be either required or optional, and required status may be changed at any time. The Title field is always required.
  • Editor Bypass: A field that is not editor bypass will appear on the submission and revision form for both administrators and non-administrators. A field that is editor bypass will appear on the submission and revision form only to users logged in as administrators. The editor bypass status may be changed for a field at any time.
  • Displays on Article Information Page: Each field may be either displayed to the public on article metadata pages, or hidden from metadata pages. The public display setting may be changed for a field at any time.
  • Sort Order: The sort order determines the order in which fields appear on the submission and revision forms, as well as the order that they appear on public metadata pages. The sort order may be changed for a field at any time.
  • Dublin Core mapping: Any field may be mapped to a Dublin Core value, or a custom export label. This value will be harvested with particular metadata prefixes through the OAI-PMH interface. To read more about OAI-PMH, see the section on Metadata and OAI Harvesting in this guide, or refer to the document, Digital Commons and OAI-PMH: Harvesting Repository Records. The Dublin Core mapping may be changed for a field at any time.
  • Virtual Collection: Most fields may be enabled for virtual collection in the repository based on metadata filters. To learn more about the Digital Commons collection tool, please see the document, The Collection Tool: How to Display Submissions in Multiple Publications on Digital Commons.
  • Search Option: All fields may be searched using the repository’s simple search feature, or by searching “All fields” in advanced search. Several common fields are included by default in the advanced search drop-down menu for narrowing a search. The following additional fields can be added to this list by request:
    • advisor, advisors, advisor1, advisor2, advisor3, other numbered advisor fields
    • department, dept, department1, department2, department3, department4, other numbered department fields
    • grant, grant_num, or grant_number
    • isbn
    • issn
    • major
    • fundref, funder, funding_source

Please contact Consulting Services if you would like to enable one of these fields for repository search. Note that if these fields are enabled for virtual collection, they will also appear as advanced search options.

Adding custom fields

Custom metadata fields may be added to any Digital Commons publication to capture information unique to that collection. These fields are often used for metadata that are important for identifying, interpreting, or citing that resource. For example, a field for DOI might be made available in all series so that visitors can easily identify the authoritative version of a document.

Other custom metadata fields are often requested based on the type of content being uploaded to the repository. For example, custom fields for funding information or methodology might be added to a collection of datasets. Custom fields for interviewers or the duration of the recording might be added to an oral history project.

To request custom fields for a publication structure, please give your bepress Consultant the following information about the new field:

  • field name
  • display label
  • whether it should display to the public
  • sort order
  • Dublin Core mapping, if any

Capturing Metadata for Specific Purposes

Metadata and OAI harvesting

The metadata fields captured with each submission can be mapped to simple or qualified Dublin Core fields. Mapping your metadata fields will allow them to be displayed in OAI-PMH harvests, a tool that may be used to display your repository’s records in a library discovery layer or other content aggregators.

Default mappings and information about harvesting options can be found in Digital Commons and OAI-PMH: Harvesting Repository Records.

The supplemental files for this guide indicate how the system’s standard fields are mapped by default. If you wish to change the Dublin Core mapping within any structures, please contact Consulting Services.

OpenURL integration

When Digital Commons creates an OpenURL for visitors to locate previously published works, certain fields may be passed through the link resolver. These fields are:

  • author first and last name
  • source_publication
  • title
  • volnum
  • issnum
  • fpage
  • lpage
  • artnum
  • publication_date

The supplemental files for this guide indicate which structure types use these fields by default. If you wish to enable these fields for other structures on your repository, please contact Consulting Services.

Metadata for search discoverability

Metadata can be targeted to promote search discoverability both within the repository and for external search engines. All metadata fields are automatically searched within the repository, even if they do not display on the item’s metadata page, so fields such as keywords can be used to increase discovery without being visible in the public-facing record.

In the section above on Additional Field Options, see the Search Option note to learn more about fields that can be added to the repository’s Advanced Search drop-down menu.

External search engines can locate all fields that display to the public and use them for indexing. They also receive a record’s keywords and abstract regardless of display status, and other fields specific to particular structure types. You can learn more about external search indexing in Search Engine Optimization: How to Attract More Visitors to Your Repository.


Digital Commons supports the import of records from PubMed. To begin using this feature, ask Consulting Services to set up PubMed import for a series. Importing from PubMed will add metadata fields that are configured with a specific set of field names. If you are planning to import records from PubMed to a series where these fields are not currently being used, you may wish to ask for them to be added to the series.

Metadata Field in PubMed Field Name in Digital Commons
Title title
Authors authors
Publication Date publication_date
Journal Title source_publication
ISSN issn
MeSH Headings subject_area
Abstract abstract
Keywords keywords
Volume volnum
Issue issnum
First Page fpage
Last Page lpage

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