Decision Support

Data Definitions and Metadata

Turning data into information involves relating relevant and accurate business definitions to actual data values.  With a goal of delivering consistent and high-value information, the University of Washington has started a comprehensive metadata program.  This program starts with the collection of data definitions from data custodians and trustees and will result in publication and distribution of meaningful definitions.

As the metadata program progresses and definitions become available, you can find links to them on this page. In the meantime, visit the links below for the institutional definitions and EDW definitions, as well as definitions available from other sites around the university.

Institutional Definitions

The University maintains agreed upon definitions of record used when developing enterprise reports. The Data Management Committee maintains this site and the definitions are provided by various data custodians. All UW personnel responsible for producing enterprise reports should strive to incorporate the institutional definitions into those reports, and document when reports use definitions that are not aligned.

Institutional Definitions in EDW

The Enterprise Data Warehouse Initiative integrates different data sources and provides standardized business terms and definitions for data warehouse tables and columns. These business terms and definitions help EDW users understand what data means and assist in creating and explaining reports. Peruse these interactive models to see table and column definitions, as well as relationships between tables.


  • Click the link above to open the model website, then click the plus sign in the upper left of the webpage to begin navigating. Continue to click plus signs to expand to table, column and index information. Click on Model Image in the left sidebar to see a rendering of the tables and relationships
  • UW maintains higher level conceptual models as well - learn more about them here.

Source System Metadata

This is a collection of metadata resources as they currently exist and serve different functional databases at the University of Washington. These metadata sources contain both business metadata (e.g., business term, definitions) and technical metadata (e.g., database column name, data type). The databases which those metadata described are the sources of Integrated Enterprise Data Warehouse. This list is not exhaustive.

Financial Metadata

  • Financial Desktop Initiative Glossary
  • Best for individual field definitions
  • Universal Access

Student Metadata

  • Student Data Dictionary
  • Table and field definitions
  • Universal Access

Other Existing Glossaries

Below is a list of glossaries defined by different operating units for the purpose of explaining operation related terms.

Decision Support Glossary

The Decision Support site maintains a glossary of terms used in the disciplines of data warehousing, decision support and business intelligence.