MetaCook: The Metadata Cookbook

MetaCook: The Metadata Cookbook

Project Partners: KIT, Hereon

The importance of metadata when sharing FAIR data cannot be overstated. The MetaCook project was initially envisioned as a cookbook-like set of instructions for developing high-quality vocabularies and subsequently metadata. However, we decided to turn the cookbook into an interactive software called VocPopuli, which includes the collaborative development of controlled vocabularies. In this way, instead of reading lists of instructions, users from any background and level of experience can easily navigate VocPopuli and receive interactive guidance. Using VocPopuli ensures that the developed vocabularies will be FAIR themselves.

VocPopuli offers the capability to immediately apply the vocabulary to datasets stored in electronic lab notebooks. As an example, an integration with Kadi4Mat is already established, and we are currently implementing the same for Herbie.

Functionally, VocPopuli has a few main features:

  • GitLab login is used to associate user contributions with term versions and vocabularies

  • Each term’s provenance can be tracked both via VocPopuli’s user interface and GitLab’s commit history and branches

  • Every term contains: label, synonyms, translations, expected data type, broader terms, related internal/external terms, up/downvotes, collaborative discussion board, visual history graph

  • Each vocabulary contains: metadata about its contents, a hierarchical structure of terms, a set of allowed named relationships, a git repository

  • In the backend VocPopuli’s data is stored in a graph database

  • SKOS and PROV (in progress) are optional exports

  • Any resource can be digitalized: Lab Procedure; Lab Specimen, ELN, ELN Export, Data Analysis


FAIR vocabularies hold enough information which enables their transformation into ontologies. We verify this with a prototype of a second piece of software called OntoFAIRCook. At the time of writing, OntoFAIRCook is available as a command line tool, and is being transformed into a web interface which is easy to use.

Project slides from the „HMC Project Welcome Meeting” March 2022
Nikolay Garabedian

Read more about MetaCook in this HMC Use Case

Making FAIR vocabularies Findable – VocPopuli and PIDA
Within the MetaCook project funded by HMC, the team at KIT and Hereon is developing VocPopuli - a tool for the collaborative development and harmonization of domain terminologies. HMC's PID service "PIDA" supports content negotiation for findable and harmonized vocabularies.