Experiments Metadata Standard

Specifies the minimum information needed to characterise a genomic experiment

When a researcher downloads a genomic dataset, they typically get CRAM or VCF documents, which are the results of a sequencing experiment. However, these files contain little information on the nature of the experiment itself: are the data from whole genome sequencing, transcriptomics, or another kind of experiment? Are the data for a bulk sequencing or single cell assay? Have techniques been applied to target specific regions of the genome?

Without metadata explaining the context, researchers cannot make sense of results from experiments in genomics, epigenomics, and more. The GA4GH Discovery Work Stream is aiming to produce a minimal checklist of metadata needed to characterise -omics datasets. The Experiments Metadata Standard will provide a dictionary of properties that makes it easier to search for experiments and to understand their results for analysis.

To learn more about the project, including areas of focus, plans for the first phase, and topics that are out of scope, visit here.

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  • Improves understanding of available data
  • Improves the discovery of genomic experiments
  • Provides guidelines to help new initiatives better capture their experiments’ metadata
  • Provides a dictionary of experiment properties to be supported by other GA4GH standards
  • Obtains details on potential experimental biases that may characterise a dataset

Target users

Researchers, clinicians, clinical laboratories, data generators, data custodians, data access committees, developers, and research institutes

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The goal of the Experiments Metadata Standard is to provide enough information to understand what a genomics experiment is about, without getting into the specifics of how to make it reproducible. It will recommend a checklist of properties that need to be captured about high-throughput sequencing assays, making use of relevant ontologies when possible. The checklist will be built in an modular and extensible way, so as to allow getting into the specifics of a given experimental technique, and so that users can adapt it to their own particular projects and methods yet to be covered.

The Experiments Metadata Standard will provide a way to organise key information, facilitating the organisation, understanding, discovery, and analysis of genomics data, which can especially be challenging when integrating data from multiple providers. The standard can also help point out biases by making clear which instrument or sequencing technique was used to produce the experimental results.




16 Nov 2023
Join four new GA4GH groups to help shape guidelines for pandemic prep, schema consensus, sequencing metadata, and categorical variants







This group meets to build a checklist of metadata properties that need to be captured by high-throughput-sequencing methods. Meets on the first Monday of every month.

14:00 UTC
1 Hour

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16 Nov 2023
Want to help shape guidelines for pandemic prep, schema consensus, sequencing metadata, and categorical variants? Join four new GA4GH groups!
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