In the projects I work on we implement linked data principles and tooling to create and manage the metadata and then provide an endpoint for a registry to consume to support sharing.
In short, have a look at the work being implemented at Geological Survey of Queensland (GSQ) . It’s an excellent and achievable model for both sides of the process. Moreover the whole approach has been written up for others to use https://github.com/geological-survey-of-queensland/vocabularies
A colleague formerly from Geoscience Australia was the architect of this approach in a project GSQ engaged Geoscience Australia to undertake. The team at GSQ are now up and running with the methodology under their own steam.
As a bit more background…
The metadata management side of things has good options for tools (free and paid), base-standards, domain standards customization and interchange mechanisms. The GSQ work is a good mix of tools working together that meet the constraints of small teams and early stage governance maturity agencies. The main challenges are twofold; 1. getting buy in and everyone on board to implement it and 2. a learning curve (by key people) and/or access to resources who can implement linked data, aka RDF, infrastructure. After these aspects are on a roadmap, modelling, taxonomies, vocabularies, domain specific standards and linking your data are, while not trivial, not that hard to get started to get some key easy wins, and the three things ( buy in, skills and depth of standards) mature well over time.
On the registry side of things, it is more of a mixed bag - a different set of challenges and things to weigh up. There are only a small number of free options and these require a degree of work to implement ( though this is not different from CKAN or MAGDA). They are certainly achievable for small teams that have commitment, but do require a good roadmap to the two challenges above.
Then there’s paid registry solutions which are quite expensive. However if the compliance requirements and risks are high, this is a price which at the end of the day, must be confronted to meet these requirements and we see many more organisations, particularly commonwealth agencies, agreeing that a linked data web-enabled approach is the way forward for this compliance.
The reality for most agencies at state level and even commonwealth is that the they are at the beginning of the journey and so the GSQ approach is a good model to kick off.
Just a quick additional note of detail…just to help place RDF and dublin core in context
At the lowest level linked data is based on the W3C standards OWL and RDF and is supported by a range of tools (free and commercial) also fully supporting the W3C standards.
Any domain can be modeled using OWL/RDF and by adopting the base standard any data can be used, linked and shared with any party also adopting the standard. Re-using and linking to other “standards” e.g. whole of government taxonomies in a non-vendor lock in way. This is the main strength of the approach.
@james.bibby mentioned dublin core. This is just one such standard using OWL/RDF as the underlying interoperability mechanism. But by itself dublin core only provides a very specific set of “attributes” (properties) and classes to define data - that is, it’s for a relatively narrow domain of applicability but reasonably extensive (deep) for that domain - it’s for libraries or managers of catalogues/lists/collections of item/s e.g. author, title, published date, plus other more abstract ones. This may be enough for some things… but it will quickly run out of expressiveness.
So for other domains and especially for describing very specific data objects and properties e.g. some aspect of water sampling data, this means it requires more work to extend dublin core, find other standards and customize them to define your domain specific properties.
Happy to chat more if you have any questions