Metadata Standards Working Group Meeting Jan. 2022


Metadata about samples and data is crucial for the implementation of FAIR principles. Providing rich metadata also helps researchers to improve the quality of their work, allowing further insights into their and previously published data.

Making metadata useful, however, requires that it is structured, both human and computer readable, and standardised as far as possible to ensure consistency throughout datasets. To assist in make metadata consistent and as rich as possible, the Genomic Standards Consortium have developed standardised ‘checklists’ for metadata, both common and domain specific, which are in fact required to be used when uploading sequence data to the largest sequencing data repositories such as teh ENA and SRA.

An issue for the existing MIxS checklists, is they are designed for modern sequence data, and are missing critical metadata fields, and/or include fields that have definitions that do not fit well in an ancient context. The ENA has already indicated interest in such a checklist, as they recognise the limitations of current upload sheets for ancient DNA.

To facilitate improved metadata reporting in paleogenomics, the SPAAM community are establishing a working group to develop a MIxS extension checklist designed specifically for ancient metagenomics, as well as collaborating with a working group in ancient human population genetics to develop a more general checklist for ancient DNA, provisionally called the ‘MInAS’ checklist (Minimum INformation about Ancient Sequences’).

This first meeting will be to establish the working group, and plan first tasks.

Organisational Details


Anyone working in ancient metagenomics with a passion for FAIR data, and interest in improving data sharing infrastructure for the field.

Ideally (but not required), attendees should have familiarity with data upload to ENA/SRA-like repositories, existing MIxS checklists, and sufficient knowledge about useful metadata for ancient DNA and metagenomic studies.


We will be meeting on! To learn how the platform works, please see the documentation here


  • Date: January 28th 2022
  • Time: 09:00-11:00 CET

💡 All meeting material and discussions will be shared after the event. Future meeting times will also be optimised to account for timezones.

  • Deadlines
    • January 2022: first meeting of ancient metagenomics working group
    • Feburary 2022: meeting with ancient human population genetics working group
    • March 2022: first draft fo minimal ancient DNA checklist & circulation


In this meeting we will;

  • carry out introductions of attendees
  • introduce the project and define aims and objectives
  • do initial comparisons of ideas for metadata fields that we should use/are missing/need to redefine


  • Join the SPAAM slack workspace and the #metadata-standards channel!
  • Familiarise yourself with:
    • The original MIxS paper: here
    • Relevant current MIxS checklists and extensions: here
  • Start making a list of metadata fields you think would be useful for your work (based on existing or non-existing MIxS fields)
  • If you have any other questions (or don’t wish to join Slack), please email the team lead James Fellows Yates (