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Australian National Data Service Research Data Australia

Research Data Australia Content Providers Guide: About RIF-CS

A guide for contributors to Research Data Australia

About RIF-CS

About the schema

The RIF-CS schema is a data interchange format that supports the electronic exchange of collection and service descriptions. It organises information about collections and services into the format required by the ANDS Collections Registry so that this information can be harvested automatically.

The ANDS Collections Registry is modelled on an international standard, ISO 2146:2010 Information and documentation -- Registry services for libraries and related organisations. This standard was carefully chosen in preference to other models such as Dublin Core Collection Description Application Profile (DC CDAP), the JISC Information Environment Service Registry (IESR), or the many models in use in scientific disciplines.

The advantage of the ISO 2146 information model is its strong support for a federated registry service that contains descriptive and administrative metadata for collections and related services, parties and activities, and also supports the expression of relationships between those entities.ANDS wants to make information about collections, services, parties and activities available to support discovery, determination of value, access and re-use. ANDS has adapted the ISO 2146 model to support this aim.

Using the schema

Introductory training (links to separate page)  |  Schema changes  |  Repeatability of elements  |  Sequence of elements  |  Vocabularies  |  Syntax  | Obligation

Better metadata quality and display

Contributor pages  |  URL displays  |  XHTML text formatting

Schema changes

The RIF-CS Schema continues to evolve to meet the needs of the Australian research community, and is reviewed annually. The user community has input into this process through the RIF-CS Advisory Board. For current change information see RIF-CS Schema Change News.

Information about the:  2010 changes | 2011 changes | 2012 changes | 2013 changes | 2014 changes

Download printable RIF-CS overview diagram: 2010 - v1.2.0 [PDF 31KB] | 2011 - v 1.3.0 [PDF 41KB] | 2012 - v1.4.0 [PDF 65KB] | 2013 - v1.5.0 [PDF 35KB] | 2014 - v1.6.0 [PDF 67KB]

Repeatability of RIF-CS elements

All elements within RIF-CS are repeatable with the following exceptions: registryObject elementkey elementoriginating source element. Attributes cannot be repeated within an element.

If necessary, attributes can be repeated by adding another instance of their element, with the exception of the following:

  • activity, collection, party or service (only one per metadata record)
  • date modified (only one per metadata record)
  • date accessioned (only one per metadata record).

The RIF-CS schema supports multiple identifiers, multiple names, multiple locations, multiple relations, multiple subjects, multiple descriptions, and multiple links to related information if required. Use repeated elements to do this. For example:

  • if there is a need to enter multiple identifiers, create additional identifier elements to hold the information.
  • if there is a need to enter multiple names, create multiple name elements to hold the information.

Full details of repeatability are contained in the RIF-CS schema.

Sequence of RIF-CS elements

The elements within RIF-CS are sequenced.

Elements must be ordered according to the schema sequence, or the RIF-CS document will not be ingested into the ANDS Collections Registry and error messages will be generated of the form " This element is not expected. Expected is...". The record will be rejected (not the entire harvest).

For more information about sequence, see the schema documentation for registryObjectsexternal-link


Local values and new vocabularies

Vocabularies (lists of terms or permissible data values) are the main source for metadata values recorded in the ANDS Collections Registry.

ANDS has suggested vocabularies.external-link Use of the ANDS vocabularies is recommended, as consistent terminology improves the precision of searching. However, user defined vocabularies can be used in most elements instead of the suggested vocabularies. As an example, subject terms used in a discipline- or theme-based repository would be valuable. Keywords used in publications or research proposals could also provide valuable search terms.

However, user defined vocabulary capability was also included to allow repositories to use controlled vocabularies that are appropriate to specific disciplines and communities. It was not designed to allow uncontrolled use of ad hoc vocabularies. Use of local vocabularies, especially on an ad hoc basis, has an adverse effect on discoverability. If different vocabularies are used to describe the same thing, the search results will not include all relevant metadata records.

The ANDS vocabularies are expected to be informed and developed further by the RIF-CS user community. Please contact if you have candidate vocabulary terms to be evaluated for possible inclusion in the ANDS vocabularies.

In November 2012, ANDS launched a Controlled Vocabulary prototype service that allows research organizations to create, manage and query "controlled vocabularies" relating to their research datasets.  More information.

Versioning of vocabularies

The ANDS suggested vocabularies are not subject to version control. Vocabulary changes or the addition of new vocabulary types occur on an ongoing basis, following confirmation by the RIF-CS Advisory Board.  Vocabularies are completely open for most elements, therefore use of deprecated vocabularies or vocabularies not yet added will not cause any problems for contributors.

Changes to vocabularies are not linked or tied to RIF-CS versions in the ANDS Registry or in Research Data Australia, although those may occur at the same time as changes in the schema.


Syntax is the layout and form of information within a metadata element.

For syntax issues with the RIF-CS elements see the RIF-CS schema

However, the schema do not describe syntax for element content derived from vocabularies. This is particularly important for information such as spatial coordinates. As an example, if incorrect syntax is used to describe spatial coordinates, the information cannot be used for automated mapping.

To resolve a syntax issue for element content derived from vocabularies, first check any references to standards or examples provided in this guide, or alternatively model your syntax on similar existing records. If this does not resolve the issue please contact your ANDS contact or


Obligation refers to whether a particular RIF-CS component is required or optional.

At the most basic level, the RIF-CS schema defines which elements and attributes are required. These rules are set out in the Schema Guidelines and enforced as part of validating RIF-CS XML documents at the point of ingestion into the ANDS Collections Registry.

All metadata records in the ANDS Collections Registry must have the following components:

  • group attribute for one value selected from the classes 'activity', 'collection', 'party' and 'service'
  • a type attribute for the class selected

In addition, the inclusion of a name and a URL pointing to the source metadata record are highly recommended.

Attributes may be required conditionally. For example, if spatial information is recorded within the element, it is mandatory to also specify the type of spatial information in the associated type attribute. Inclusion of spatial information is optional, but if it is there, its type must also be recorded.

The Schema Guidelines contain full technical obligation information.  For content providers supplying metadata to ANDS under contract, additional obligations may apply. These will be specified as part of contractual arrangements and may reference the Metadata Content Requirements.  See also our tips for the impact of RIF-CS metadata.

Contributor pages

The "Contributor Home Pages" functionality of Research Data Australia is an opt-in feature that creates a home page for each contributor.

This home page is automatically linked to all the collections, parties, activities, and services contributed by the organisation. Contributor home pages have some basic text about the organisation, which is created by from a template that can be embellished by the organisation's data source administrators with richer text and images.

More information about contributor pages [PDF]

URL displays

Identifiers such as handles, Digital Object Identifiers and PURLs can be provided either as strings containing the identifier component only, or as resolvable URLs. URLs are preferable where available, both to facilitate navigation by users and to support linked data developments.

From December 2011,

Identifiers will be displayed within Research Data Australia as provided by the data provider and prefixed with the identifier type

  • Examples: DOI :10.654654/ASDF/4554565 or DOI: 

Where a resolvable URL can be generated for a provided identifier the displayed identifier will become a clickable link to the generated URL.

  • Example: displayed identifier ‘DOI :10.654654/ASDF/4554565' shall point to

Business rules for display of identifier types:


Identifier Type (must be typed as)

Business Rules


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Identifier made resolvable by prefixing the given identifier with ‘http://'.

ARK identifier must be provided with the Name Mapping Authority (NMA) and ARK identifier

If only the ark identifier is provided we can't tell who the NMA is and can't produce a link. In the above example it would be

Mouse over text for the link shall read ‘ Resolve this ARK identifier'


Identifier made resolvable by prefixing the given ‘' identifier with ‘'.

Provided NLA identifier must contain the NLA party identifier prefix ‘'

Prefix type for this identifier shall be shown as ‘NLA' not ‘au-anl:peau'

While the URI form is preferred, NLA party identifiers may be represented as:

<identifier type="AU-ANL:PEAU"></identifier>   or

<identifier type="AU-ANL:PEAU"></identifier>

Mouse over text for the link shall read ‘View the record for this Party in Trove'

Existing ‘View the record for this Party in Trove' link shall be removed.


Identifier made resolvable by prefixing the given DOI with ‘'.

Provided DOI must start with ‘10.'

Mouse over text for the link shall read ‘ Resolve this DOI'


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Identifier made resolvable by prefixing the given handle with ‘'.

Mouse over text for the link shall read ‘Resolve this Handle


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.

orcid Identifier made resolvable be prefixing the given identifier with ''.


Identifier made resolvable by prefixing the given identifier with ‘'.


Non resolvable identifier.


Non resolvable identifier.


No transformation required.

URIs should be provided in full by the data provider (e.g. ).


Non resolvable identifier.

XHTML text formatting

XHTML formatting can be provided for text in the Description element and the addressPart element, to support better display in Research Data Australia.

A widget is provided for manual data entry users, or code can be provided embedded in RIF-CS XML feeds. Note that HTML in feeds must be escaped or harvest errors will occur.

Tags supported


Attributes Supported










href (to a url), title, rev, rel

<ul> <li>


<ol> <li>




<dl> <dt> <dd>


<h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6>


<small> <strong>


<hr/> <br/>



id, border, cellpadding, cellspacing, width






align, class, id, valign


abbr, align, class, colspan, rowspan, valign




abbr, align, class, id, colspan, rowspan, valign


src (to a url), title, alt, class, align, height, width


















align, class, id












class, id












  • It is recognised that some display issues may occur due to the available screen real estate and certain XHTML tags (e.g. table truncation). These issues will be reviewed and addressed as they occur. Data providers should review the appearance of their records in Research Data Australia and contact if they cannot resolve the problem
  • The height and width of images provided within the Description and AddressPart elements will be limited to ensure they fit comfortably within the element’s available real estate on the View pages in Research Data Australia. The aspect ratio of images will be kept. Images should be less than 500kb in size.

Data entry methods:

  • enter text as usual, then apply formatting as in any WYSIWYG editor


  • select Source and add marked up XHTML text directly.

RIF-CS example of escaped HTML

<registryObject group="AT">
    <activity type="project" dateModified="2011-11-03T00:00:00Z">
        <identifier type="local">localhost</identifier>
        <name type="primary">
            <namePart>MG Harvested HTML Record</namePart>
        <description type="full">
            &lt;h1&gt;Heading 1 Example&lt;/h1&gt;
            &lt;h2&gt;Heading 2 Example&lt;/h2&gt;
            &lt;br&gt;&lt;b&gt;This line is Bold&lt;/b&gt;
            &lt;br&gt;&lt;i&gt;This line is Italic&lt;/i&gt;
            &lt;br&gt;&lt;u&gt;This line is Underlined&lt;/u&gt;

ANDS resources

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