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The Registry Interchange Format - Collections and Services (RIF-CS) is an XML vocabulary for representing metadata about data collections and related entities based on ISO 2146.[1]

It is a machine-readable format to describe metadata about data collections. Similar to how MARC standards are used by library systems to describe books, RIF-CS is used to describe data collections. For example, a RIF-CS record can describe a spreadsheet containing experimental results: it might contain the title, description, creator, keywords, date the experiment was conducted and a URL to obtain the actual spreadsheet. Another RIF-CS record can describe the person who created the spreadsheet: it might contain their name, address and contact email.

RIF-CS documents, containing RIF-CS records, are exchanged between computer systems. For example, a university can send the RIF-CS documents to a national database, where it can be indexed and searched. People can download RIF-CS records from a national database to use the information to find out more about the data and/or the researcher.


The metadata describes the entity as well relationships between the entities. RIF-CS represents metadata about the following types of entities, which it calls registry objects:[2]

  • Collections
  • Parties
  • Activities
  • Services

These entities are based on the entities defined in ISO 2146.[3]

The registry objects contain either embedded information or links to other registry objects. Some information is represented directly in the registry object; for example: names, descriptions and dates. Other information is represented by a link to another registry object: for example, the creator for a collection (research data) is a link to another registry object that describes the party (a researcher).


RIF-CS is used in Australian universities and industry as a format for submitting metadata to the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) Research Data Australia service.[4]

In that context, collections represent collections of research data; parties represent people and groups; activities represent research projects or programs; services represent ways to access the research data collections.

RIF-CS is only a representation of the metadata. To exchange RIF-CS a protocol, such as OAI-PMH, is used.


This example RIF-CS document contains a collection record and a party record.

  <?xml version="1.0"?>
  <registryObjects xmlns="https://ands.org.au/standards/rif-cs/registryObjects">
    <registryObject group="G1">
      <collection type="dataset" dateModified="2013-03-14T15:09:26Z">
        <identifier type="local">urn:uuid:dec9b127-0d24-4d12-aaf2-a71e9ed29f75</identifier>
        <name type="primary"><namePart>Test data</namePart></name>
        <name type="alternative"><namePart>Data for testing</namePart></name>
        <description type="full">Data used for testing.</description>
        <subject type="local">test</subject>
             <electronic type="email">
             <electronic type="url">
             <date type="dateFrom" dateFormat="W3CDTF">2012</date>
             <date type="dateTo" dateFormat="W3CDTF">2013</date>
           <identifier type="uri">https://www.example.com/foobar</identifier>
           <relation type="hasCollector"/>
    <registryObject group="G1">
      <party type="person" dateModified="2013-03-14T07:14:25Z">
        <identifier type="ORCID">https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9501-6966</identifier>
        <name type="primary">
          <namePart type="title">Dr</namePart>
          <namePart type="given">John</namePart>
          <namePart type="family">Citizen</namePart>


  1. ^ Global Registries, "The Registry Interchange Format - Collections and Services (RIF-CS)" Archived 2013-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 4 January 2013.
  2. ^ Australian National Data Service, "Learn about RIF-CS" Archived 2013-04-10 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 4 January 2013.
  3. ^ ISO, "ISO 2146:2010 Information and documentation - Registry services for libraries and related organizations".
  4. ^ Australian National Data Service, "Research Data Australia".