Guidelines for Translating Dublin Core Specifications

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Contributor: Karen Rollitt
Contributor: Stefanie Rühle
Contributor: Shigeo Sugimoto
Contributor: Makx Dekkers
Contributor: Thomas Baker


Purpose and scope of this guide

Since the Dublin Core Metatdata Element Set 1.1 was first developed for resource description in 1995 many translations have been documented for the Set in a variety of languages.

DCMI have continued to develop and maintain Dublin Core specifications and these have widespread uptake in many regions and countries throughout the world, and in many disciplines and domains, and for multiple purposes.

The outcome of the widespread uptake of Dublin Core has created local needs for Dublin Core documents in local languages. All original Dublin Core documents and specifications are documented in the English language (U.S), however now translations can be found for many languages; from translations of the Dublin Core Metatdata Element Set 1.1 through to translations for the full range of DC specifications.

This guide is intended as a general introduction for those wishing to translate DCMI documents and specifications. It is not intended as a step–by-step guide on how to translate DCMI documents, but rather provides a starting point for developing DCMI translations. Guidance is given on prioritising DCMI documents for translation and how to publish translations locally and internationally on the DCMI website.

Translating Dublin Core Specifications: an approach

Just like good project planning the ideal approach before embarking on the task of translating Dublin Core specifications is to think about the product that will be delivered with your Dublin Core translation project. Consider the benefits and what is achievable and build a business case including the various options, costs and timescales. Develop a plan, define the deliverables, and recruit expertise and resource.

Your Dublin Core translation project could build on an existing previous translation or be a new project. Whatever it is the translation is likely to have widespread uptake in your region and so think about the stakeholders, and how to communicate information about your Dublin Core translation project. Use various channels, including local listservs and the DC-General ListServ and DC-Internationalization ListServ to communicate developments.

Dublin Core specifications are technical documents and so it is recommended that the translations are done by experts that are familiar with the topic or by those willing to research metadata topics in-depth. Include peer review because this gives translations added credibility and validity.

DCMI accept translations that are done by volunteers and agencies. If as a volunteer you are committed to completing a translations refer a copy of your translation to the agency in your region that leads metadata developments.

DCMI find that translations written by agencies are better maintained and well-organized and have permanent links to resources. So whether translatting just the Dublin Core Metatdata Element Set 1.1 or the full range of DC documents, the work will not end with the completion of the translation. Ongoing maintenance and update needs to be factored in because the DCMI continue to review and updatedocuments.

The List of DCMI Specifications

The section contains the list of DCMI specifications [[1]] including; Semantic Recommendations, User Guidelines, Model-related specifications and Syntax guidelines. Recommendations are made for prioritising these documents for translation.

Semantic Recommendations

  • Dublin Core Metadata Element Set [2]. This document excerpts from DCMI Metadata Terms the fifteen elements of the classic "Dublin Core", which has been standardized as ISO Standard 15836:2009 [3]. This document is popular with translators because it is shorter and covers the "core" standard. It is possible to create a translated version of ISO Standard 15836:2009 and publish it as a national standard for your region.
  • DCMI Metadata Terms [4]. This periodically updated document provides a one-stop source of up-to-date information on DCMI metadata terms, including the classic Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, the DCMI Type Vocabulary, and resource classes used as formal domains and ranges. It is a long document, but it covers all of the metadata terms published by DCMI. If this document is translated, it is not necessary to translate the Dublin Core Metadata Set (above) separately.
  • DCMI Namespace Policy [5]. This document describes how term URIs are allocated by the DCMI and the policies associated with DCMI namespaces and conforms to the DCMI Abstract Model. It is recommended that this document is translated if also translating the DCMI Abstract Model [[6]].
  • DCMI term declarations represented in RDF schema language [7]. This document describes how DCMI terms are represented in RDF schema language. It is recommended that this document is translated if also translating the DCMI Abstract Model [[8]].
  • The Dublin Core Metadata Registry [9]. The registry is a navigational interface to DCMI's machine-processable RDF term declarations. it is recommended that the introduction "About" be translated"

User Guidelines

The three key user-oriented documents of interest to the potential translator are:

  • Interoperability Levels for Dublin Core Metadata [10]. This document articulates current thinking in the Dublin Core community about the nature of metadata interoperability. It is also quite short and relatively easy to translate.
  • Guidelines for Dublin Core Application Profiles [11]. This document provides guidelines for the creation of Dublin Core Application Profiles. The document explains the key components of a Dublin Core Application Profile and walks through the process of developing a profile. The document is aimed at designers of application profiles -- people who will bring together metadata terms for use in a specific context.
  • Singapore Framework for Dublin Core Application Profiles [12]. The document describes a framework for designing metadata applications for maximum interoperability and for documenting such applications for maximum reusability. The framework defines a set of descriptive components that are necessary or useful for documenting an Application Profile and describes how these documentary standards relate to standard domain models and Semantic Web foundation standards. It is relatively short and moderately easy to translate.

Model-related specifications and syntax guidelines

Model-related specifications and syntax guidelines are generally quite difficult to translate, so translations should be undertaken only when there is a clear need (for example, for a specific project). As of 2009, the most important model-related specifications and syntax guidelines are:

  • DCMI Abstract Model [14]
  • Description Set Profiles: A constraint language for Dublin Core Application Profiles [15]
  • Criteria for the Review of Application Profiles [16]
  • A MoinMoin wiki syntax for a Description Set Profile [17]

Syntax Guidelines

  • Expressing Dublin Core metadata using the DC-Text format [18]
  • Expressing Dublin Core metadata using HTML/XHTML meta and link elements" (DC-HTML) [19]
    • Note: For expressing metadata in HTML, implementers should also consider RDFa[, a relatively new W3C syntax that can be used to embed Dublin Core descriptions in Web pages.
  • Expressing Dublin Core Description Sets using XML (DC-DS-XML) [20]
  • Expressing Dublin Core metadata using the Resource Description Framework (RDF) [21]

Related DCMI documentation to translate

Depending on local requirements the following DCMI documents and web pages may also be translated:

  • DCMI web pages "About us" [22]
  • Metadata basics [23]
  • DCMI web pages "Community and events" [24] including the translation of the DCMI Conferences Announcements

Prioritising DCMI specifications for translation

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Publishing translations of DCMI specifications

Translated DCMI specifications can be published both locally for local language/s needs and internationally on the DCMI Website

How to publish DCMI specification translation locally

When publishing translations of DCMI specifications locally choose an agency that will support and host the translation and meet some provenance, style and formatting guidelines.

Choosing an agency

When choosing agencies to support and host your DCMI translation project consider:

  • your national translation organisation
  • agencies with leadership role in metadata for the language and regions of the translation
  • agencies that have a national standards role

Formatting, Style and Attributions

We recommend Guidelines for the translation of standards of the Committee on Descriptive Standards published by the International Council on Archives [25] for guidance on style.


All DCMI translated documents need to include in a prominent place on the document

  • A statement that the original document is in the English language and the translated document is a translation of the original.
  • A statement, in the language of the document that the source document is definitive and that the translation is for reference purposes only.
  • The name of translator and/or agency responsible for the translation.
  • The status and version of the translated document, for example “working draft” “waiting peer review" "final".
  • Copyright statements for both the DCMI and the local translator.
  • The legal requirement for translations of DCMI documents and schemas is stated at the Document Notice on the DCMI website. [26] and [27].
  • Unless indicated otherwise, all DCMI documents are licensed under a Creative Commons Liscense 3. [28]
Develop a template for attributions

The following is an example of a feader for the French translation [29] of Interoperability levels for Dublin Core metadata [30]

Avertissement — Ce document est une traduction d'un document original du Dublin Core Metadata Initiative DCMI) qui seul fait autorité. La traduction peut comporter des erreurs ou en introduire de nouvelles.
Original Titre: Interoperability levels for Dublin Core metadata. Éditeur : Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. Date de publication : 2008-11-03. Adresse URL: Copyright © 1995-2008 Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. Traduction Titre : Niveaux d'interopérabilité des métadonnées Dublin Core. Traducteur : J.J.SOLARI. Date de publication : 2008-12-20. Adresse URL: Copyright © 2008


  • It is recommended that translations of Dublin Core specifications be formatted as Portable Document Format (PDF) documents with all attributes, as described in the previous section prominently displayed in the document.
  • Some translations of DCMI documents maybe more appropriate as a web page, for example,translations of DCMI events and conferences.

Translations on the DCMI Website

The DCMI website contains translations of DCMI specifications documented by members of the DCMI community. Some of these translations are done by volunteers and others are developed by a lead metadata agency for a region or language. Translations can be sourced on one or more of the following DCMI webpages:

  • The DCMI webpage named: Translations of DCMI documents [31]]. Some of the translations included on this page include the full range of DCMI specifications and have well-organized and permanent links to resources, while others have minimal translation and links that can disappear on a regular basis.
  • Within DCMI documents and specifications themselves. For example, the DC specification, “DCMI Metadata Terms” [32] has a link to the Norwegian translation.
  • The DCMI Registry [33] which is a searchable interface and includes DC terms in 25 languages. It has a REST, SOAP, and SPARQL interface.

Volunteers and members of the DCMI community can request that their translations are added to the DCMI website providing they meet the criteria in Section 4 Publishing translations of DCMI specifications.

Maintaining Translations

  • Routinely check DCMI pages for updates.
  • If a DCMI document is removed
    • remove the translation or
    • identify it as outdated
  • If a new version of the translated document is published
    • revise the translation or
    • identify it an older verion.

Case Studies

1. German translation of DCMES. Dublin Core Conference 2007, Singapur Christine Frodl (German National Library) Stefanie Ruehle (State and University Library, Goettingen) [34]

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