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Access rights

Meaning & purpose

The AccessRights element is used to describe access rights and access constraints, including who may access and when access may occur (including any embargo). Restrictions may be based on security, privacy or other policies.

AccessRights is contained within the Rights element wrapper.

Access Rights attributes

Access Rights Type

An Access Rights Type is optional. If used, preferably specify a type from the Access Rights Type vocabulary:




Data is publicly accessible online


Data is publicly accessible subject to certain conditions. For example: 

  • a fee applies

  • the data is only accessible at a specific physical location


 Data access is limited. For example:

  • during an embargo period

  • to a particular group of users

  • where formal permission is granted


Rights URI attribute

Optionally, include a Rights URI attribute to access rights and constraints information relating to the registry object.

Use in Research Data Australia

Access rights information is displayed prominently in Research Data Australia to support researchers in reuse of research collections:

  • Access Rights Type and value are displayed in collection and service records under the label 'Access'
  • A faceted search option is provided based on Access Rights Type terms

Best practice

Access rights information is recommended to provide clarity on the conditions under which the data or service may be accessed (if any). 

  • Use the AccessRights element to describe access rights and access constraints for the data or service, including who may access and when access may occur (including any embargo). If an embargo applies, include the date when the embargo is expected to cease.
  • Choose a type from the Access Rights Type vocabulary above. 
  • A free text statement may also be provided. 
  • Optionally, provide a URI pointing to access rights and access constraints relating to the collection or service. This could be a website, or, for example, an eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) resource. 

This element may be populated from other metadata sources including:

  • dcterms:accessRights
  • AGRkMS Rights Type
  • DC CAP Access Rights
  • MODS 3.4 accessCondition
  • ANZLIC 1.0 useLimitation, accessConstraints, useConstraints, otherConstraints, MD_SecurityConstraints, handlingDescription

Nested collections and aggregations

Nested (parent/child) collections and records that describe aggregations of data or metadata (such as repositories and registries) require careful consideration when encoding rights information - especially access rights information. For nested collections, the parent record and all child records should be encoded with access rights information.

The following approach is recommended to ensure that those records encoded with open attributes are retrieved when a search in Research Data Australia is limited to, or faceted by, the "open" attribute:

  • Where records within a nested collection (or items within an aggregation) share the same Access Rights Type, encode the parent record (or the aggregation collection record) with that Access Rights Type.
  • Where records within a nested collection (or items within an aggregation) do not share the same Access Rights Type, encode the parent record (or the agregation collection record) with the most permissive or most common Access Rights Type in the nested collection (or aggregation), and provide a free text statement to clarify. 
    For example:
    • where some child records within a nested collection are publicly accessible online and some are not, encode the parent record as accessRights@type="open" and provide a free text statement as an accessRights value, e.g. "Access rights for datasets within this collection vary. See individual datasets for the access conditions that apply to them."
    • where some items within an aggregation being described are publicly accessible online and some are not, encode the collection record with accessRights@type="open" and provide a free text statement as an accessRights value, e.g. "Access rights for individual resources within this repository vary. Refer to advice provided by the data custodian."

XML encoding example

Example showing the use of a controlled vocabulary for access rights type with the access rights element

<accessRights type="Restricted" rightsUri=""> Access may be granted following approval of a written application.</accessRights>

Change history

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DateChange history

21 Nov 2011

First web publication. Element introduced as part of RIF-CS v1.3.0 with effect from 7 Dec 2011

19 Nov 2014

Added information about the suggested vocabulary terms for accessRights introduced as part of RIF-CS v1.6.0 in December 2014

27 Nov 2015

Updated all information.  Added guidance for nested collections

14 Dec 2016

Created separate page for Access Rights from Rights content. Page reviewed and updated.

04 Sep 2020Amended the description for Access Rights Type "restricted" from: "following an embargo period" to "during an embargo period" to more accurately reflect the intent of "restricted". Added guidance on specifying an end date for the embargo period.




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