Research Data Australia

More than ever we’re recognising the value of data and the huge amount of untapped potential in our nation’s extensive research data collections.

That’s why services such as Research Data Australia (RDA) are essential. The RDA is an online portal for finding research data and associated projects, researchers, and data services. You can find, access, and reuse data for research from over one hundred Australian research organisations, government agencies, and cultural institutions. RDA covers a broad spectrum of research fields from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through to social sciences, arts and humanities.

RDA caters specifically for researchers but also has broader relevance to others including policy makers, educators, industry and business people.

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Research Data - Software

How RDA works

Researchers can use RDA to search for, reuse and attribute data collections. Most of the data discovered there is immediately accessible online and collections are published via the following process:

  • Data owners or managers create descriptions of research data collections (i.e. metadata records) in their institutional repositories. Collection descriptions can include rich metadata such as: related people, organisations, publications, software and projects; access instructions and conditions; keywords; Field of Research Codes and more.
  • Institutions then provide the RDA Registry with these metadata records that describe data collections and any related activities (grants and projects), parties (people and organisations), and services and tools.
  • The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) publishes these descriptions in RDA.


In all cases the data itself remains with the custodians. Only the descriptions are published on RDA and access to the data is always at the discretion of the custodian. The ARDC does not store the data itself but displays descriptions of, and links to, the data held by our data publishing partners or contributors.

RDA is indexed by big search engines such as Google and Yahoo. The ARDC has reciprocal publishing arrangements with other data collection registries, discovery portals and metadata syndication in Australia and internationally.

What research data collections can be included in RDA?

Any data that is of interest to researchers can be described in RDA, whether it is digital or non-digital, e.g. survey results; data collected automatically from computer programs, sensors or instruments; images, audio and video; text corpora; even web pages and blogs.

Using the correct metadata format for RDA

The Registry Interchange Format – Collections and Services (RIF-CS) schema was developed as a data interchange format for supporting the electronic exchange of collection and service descriptions. It is the primary metadata format supported by RDA and the RDA Registry.

Records described using alternative metadata formats can still be harvested for display and discovery in RDA, but will require an appropriate crosswalk to be implemented in the RDA Registry to transform the metadata records into RIF-CS.

Developing a metadata crosswalk is a resource intensive process requiring sound knowledge of both the source and destination schema. A crosswalk maps the elements (or fields) in one schema, to the equivalent elements in another schema. The ARDC has worked with a number of RDA publishers to develop crosswalks for specific metadata schemas. The crosswalks can be modified for different use cases or used as examples when developing a new crosswalk. 

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