Skip to main content
Australian National Data Service Research Data Australia

Research Data Australia Content Providers Guide: Learn about RIF-CS schema

A guide for contributors to Research Data Australia

Learn about the RIF-CS schema

This page is a self-paced introduction to RIF-CS for beginners.
Each section has a brief explanation of the topic, with optional links to more information.

Want to talk to someone? Contact your Outreach Officer, or email to organise a 1-to-1 online tutorial, or try your peers, details on Partners page


What is RIF-CS?

RIF-CS is a template, like an online form. The information that you put into the template is metadata about research data.

RIF-CS is a template in the form of an XML schema that sets out the structure of the information and what can be included.

What does RIF-CS contain?

The RIF-CS template lets you describe four different kinds of things (or classes) in separate records.  It also has some administrative information to support record harvesting and management.

The RIF-CS classes used by ANDS are:

  • Collections, particularly datasets, but also  collections such as museum or archive collections or information collections such as registries, catalogues and indexes, or  aggregated collections such as found in repositories. These collections may be research outputs or support research. The concept of collections as used by ANDS excludes collections of published items; these are already under intellectual control through established publishing, library or archival systems.

For each of these kinds of entities or objects, the ANDS Collections Registry stores  descriptive information supplied by institutional repositories.

The information is used:

  1. to improve retrieval by search engines, and
  2. to allow searchers to assess whether the object being described is potentially useful and should be followed up

To provide a clear picture of the research domain, we also need to relate collections, parties, activities and services to each other. The diagram below shows the relations between the classes that are used in the ANDS implementation of ISO 2146. See Related Object for more information.

  • Parties, whether individuals or organisations, that play roles in the research domain. These roles include carrying out or collaborating in research activities, funding research, or providing support to research activities
  • Activities, such as projects, programs, events or courses
  • Services, such as search services, alert and notification services, or other services that support research activities or collections

ANDS implementation of ISO 2146 model













 Print this RIF-CS v1.6.0 diagram [PDF]


Why was RIF-CS chosen instead of [insert your favourite schema here]?

Its all about links and relationships. RIF-CS lets you describe important things in the research environment (datasets, research collections, researchers, research organisations, projects, services) and link them together.

RIF-CS is based on the international standard ISO 2146:2010 Information and documentation –Registry services for libraries and related organisations - a generic information standard not tied to any specific research domain.  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.

For more information about RIF-CS, see the RIF-CS Guide and the technical documentation including schemas.

How do I create a collection record?

Step 1 Preparation

  • Start by familiarising yourself with existing records in Research Data Australia. Look at records similar to the ones you will be creating and read how to maximise the impact of your metadata.
  • Find out what records look like—look behind this record in Research Data Australia

Step 2 Create practice records (Demo)

Step 3 Log in to ANDS Online Services (Production)

  • Create your records
  • Review the online feedback when you save and validate a record.
  • Contact your Outreach Officer or if you need assistance or advice.



What does a "good" record look like?

There are many high quality records in Research Data Australia. This is one example. 

A "good" record is one that supports researchers in finding research data, deciding if the data is useful, accessing the data, and finally re-using or re-purposing the data in further research.

For a start, a good record has plenty of relevant information, is linked to other records and to external information, is not full of unexplained specialist jargon, and is accurate (check your spelling!).

Read more:


How does my metadata get to ANDS?

ANDS prefers to harvest RIF-CS metadata from your metadata store using the OAI-PMH protocol.

The process looks like this:

Metadata feed process









How do I turn my metadata into RIF-CS? Find out about mapping and crosswalks.

How does harvesting work? An introduction to harvesting | More technical information

It is also possible to manually create records directly into the ANDS Collections Registry.  More.

What does ANDS do with my information once they get it?

ANDS publishes your information into Research Data AustraliaResearch Data Australia.

ANDS also makes your records available for harvesting by others, such as the National Library of Australia's Trove discovery service.

Read more: ANDS Data Connections Strategy | Research Data Australia | ANDS Discovery Services and the Australian Research Data Commons

How does RIF-CS get changed?

The schema is changed after consultation with the RIF-CS Advisory Board.

Change proposals can be seen on the RIF-CS Schema Changes Discussion forum in the ANDS Community Bulletin Board (registration required to post to this forum).

For information about changes see RIF-CS Schema Change News.

FAQ and tricky bits

A selection of helpful resources about RIF-CS, DOIs, and ANDS Online Services is at  Guides, Training, Support

Common questions

  1. Where do I get keys for my metadata records?
    You need to decide this before you start. Options are described here.
  2. My XML is seriously out of order.
    XML must be provided in the order specified in the schema. If the XML is out of sequence, the record (not the entire harvest) will be rejected.
  3. The type I want to use isn't in the vocabulary.
    Vocabularies are mostly open, and will accept types that are not in the ANDS-suggested vocabularies. Please consult if you want your vocabulary added.
  4. Are ANDS vocabularies versioned?
    Versions of the ANDS controlled vocabularies are associated with their corresponding RIF-CS version release. For example, RIF-CS version 1.6.1 is fully interoperable with RIF-CS vocabularies 1.6.1. To find out more about the ANDS controlled vocabulary versions, visit
  5. What does the Data Source Administrator job involve?
    Basically you manage the sharing of metadata with ANDS and control how your records will display in Research Data Australia. More information about the Data Source Administrator role and about managing your data source account.

ANDS resources

Contact ANDS                                       ANDS Online Services                                      ANDS Technical Resources                                      ANDS Developers Toolbox                                       powered by Springshare

Thank you for visiting the 'new look' Content Providers Guide!  We'd really appreciate your feedback.  Please tell us what you like about the Guide or how it might be improved. 

Send your questions and comments to:

Thank you!