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:
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).
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="http://ands.org.au/standards/rif-cs/registryObjects"> <registryObject group="G1"> <key>urn:uuid:7d9127c5-b97e-4474-87a3-68f2c219c609</key> <originatingSource>http://www.example.com/thales/source</originatingSource> <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> <location> <address> <electronic type="email"> <value>firstname.lastname@example.org</value> </electronic> </address> </location> <location> <address> <electronic type="url"> <value>http://www.example.edu/data/1234</value> </electronic> </address> </location> <coverage> <temporal> <date type="dateFrom" dateFormat="W3CDTF">2012</date> <date type="dateTo" dateFormat="W3CDTF">2013</date> </temporal> </coverage> <relatedInfo> <identifier type="uri">http://www.example.com/foobar</identifier> </relatedInfo> <relatedObject> <key>urn:uuid:30fda6cd-5b08-4376-a1b7-2ee40144d9da</key> <relation type="hasCollector"/> </relatedObject> </collection> </registryObject> <registryObject group="G1"> <key>urn:uuid:30fda6cd-5b08-4376-a1b7-2ee40144d9da</key> <originatingSource>http://www.example.com/thales/source</originatingSource> <party type="person" dateModified="2013-03-14T07:14:25Z"> <identifier type="ORCID">http://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> </name> </party> </registryObject> </registryObjects>
- Global Registries, "The Registry Interchange Format - Collections and Services (RIF-CS)" Archived 2013-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 4 January 2013.
- Australian National Data Service, "Learn about RIF-CS" Archived 2013-04-10 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 4 January 2013.
- ISO, "ISO 2146:2010 Information and documentation - Registry services for libraries and related organizations".
- Australian National Data Service, "Research Data Australia".