Metadata Input Guidelines: Creator and Contributor Definitions

Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether a person/organization should be included as a creator (someone primarily responsible for creating the item) or a contributor (someone secondarily responsible for the item).

Creator or Contributor?

In some cases it depends on the kind of role.

A person or organization related to the item but not directly related to its creation is a contributor including:

  • donors
  • funders
  • sponsors
  • distributors
  • committee members (for theses and dissertations)

Some roles suggest, by definition, that a person or organization contributed to a piece of the item rather than to the whole, such as:

  • annotators
  • author of introduction, etc.
  • research team members
  • assignees
  • witnesses (e.g., signed witnesses on patents)

In some cases it depends on the item.

For example, a photographer might be a creator of:

  • a photograph (original negative or print)
  • a book of images
  • a slide

But a photographer might be a contributor for:

  • a yearbook
  • a postcard
  • a newspaper


Kinds of Items Creators Contributors Example Records
photographic print
  • the photographer
a copy negative
(a picture of a photographic print)
  • the photographer of the copy
  • the photographer of the original print
a yearbook
  • the originating school
  • an editor-in-chief
  • co-editors
  • section editors
  • photographers
  • business managers
  • sponsors

also, if there are multiple organizations responsible for:
  • printing
  • lithography
  • covers
a map
depending on the kind of map:
  • a cartographer
  • a draftsman
  • an illustrator
    (if images outside the map are extensive)
  • a surveyor
  • an engraver
  • an illustrator
    (if images outside the map are small or less significant)
a traced copy of a plat the person(s) who:
  • traced the original
  • copied the original
  • illustrated or changed the copy
the original:
  • surveyor
  • draftsman
  • cartographer
an opera
  • a composer
  • an arranger
  • a compiler
  • an adaptor
  • a librettist
    (in some cases)
  • composers (of individual pieces)
  • a librettist
    (in some cases)
  • a printer
  • a translator
a single essay
  • an author
  • an illustrator
    (if the illustrations are a significant part of the essay)
  • author of an introduction
  • an illustrator
a compilation of essays in a book
  • an editor
  • a compiler
  • essay/section authors
  • illustrators
a video
  • a director
  • an actor with a significant part
  • actors
  • a cinematographer
  • an editor
  • an interviewer or interviewee
  • a producer
  • a recording engineer
  • other staff
a recital or musical performance
  • a performer
  • a conductor
  • individual performers
    (if part of a group concert)
  • a composer
  • a speaker
  • a producer
  • a recording engineer

* Items marked with an asterisk are restricted to the UNT community - the records are viewable but non-UNT users cannot view/listen to the actual objects.

Other Notes

  • The UNT guidelines do not limit the number of creators or contributors. However, due to time constraints, we will sometimes choose a specific number for a project. For example, we might include all creators, but only the first five (5) contributors for all objects in a particular project, or only include contributors that have explicity-named roles other than “staff.”
  • For formatting guidelines, see the Creator page and the Contributor page.