AbstractCurrent trends in data collections are moving toward infrastructure services that are centralized, flexible, and involve diverse technologies across which multiple researchers conduct simultaneous, parallel workflows. During the lifecycle of a project, from the collection of raw data through study to publication, researchers remain active curators and decide how to present their data so others can access and reuse it. In this context, metadata is key to ensuring that data and results remain organized and secure, but building and maintaining metadata can be cumbersome, especially in the case of large and complex datasets. This paper presents our work to develop a complex collection architecture with metadata at its core, for a large and varied archaeological collection. We use metadata, mapped to Dublin Core, to tie the pieces of this architecture together and to manage data objects as they move through the research lifecycle over time and across technologies and changing methods. This metadata, extracted automatically where possible, also fulfills a fundamental preservation role in case any part of the architecture should fail.
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