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Meaning & purpose

A name is a human-readable identifying label for an activity, collection, party or service:

  • party that is a person will have a name that may include a title and awards; e.g. Professor Elizabeth Blackburn AC.
  • party that is a group will have a primary name (e.g. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and may have an abbreviated name (e.g. CSIRO).
  • collection will have a name (i.e a title); e.g. 'Social maps of healthy eating campaigns in Australia with media analysis, quantitative and experimental results'.
  • An activity such as a project will have a name (or title); e.g. the 'Resilience of Moreton Bay to climate change: Links between nutrient inputs and plankton dynamics project'.
  • service will have a name; e.g. the 'Minerals Down Under Portal' or the 'GSV Seamless Geology Web Map Service'.

The Name element is a wrapper for the child element NamePart; all names are recorded in NamePart.

Name attributes

Name Type

Optionally, the Name Type may be described when more than one name is supplied and there is a need to distinguish between the primary name and alternative versions. If used, preferably specify a type from the Name Type vocabulary:




official name of the collection, activity, service or party (person or group)


shortened form of, or acronym for, the official name


any other form of name used now or in the past as a substitute or alternative for the official name


Name Part Type

Optionally, for parties, the Name Part Type may be described when there is more than one NamePart and there is a need to distinguish between the multiple NamePart instances that together make up a name. If used, preferably specify a type from the Name Part Type vocabulary:




last name or surname, including compound names (person)


forename or given or Christian name or initials (person)


honours, awards, qualifications and other identifiers conferred (person)


word or phrase indicative of rank, office, nobility, honour, etc., or a term of address associated with a person


part of a name that describes a party (group) that contains one or more integral subordinate parties (sub-groups or sub-units)


part of a name that describes a party (group) that is an integral sub-group or sub-unit of a superior party (group)


Date From and Date To attributes

Optionally, record the time period for which the name was current using the DateFrom and DateTo attributes. This is only applicable where the name has changed over time and older versions of the name have been recorded in the metadata being provided. A single date or a range of dates can be provided and may include both start and end dates or an open-ended date. Dates should be UTC and of one of the forms described in section 3.2.7 of the W3C Schema Data Types document

Language attribute

The language in which the name metadata is recorded may be included in the Lang attribute, but is not displayed or searchable in Research Data Australia. The RDA Registry accepts language codes consistent with IETF's BCP (Best Current Practice) 47: Tags for Identifying Languages (incorporating RFC 5646). Language codes may be selected from:

Use in Research Data Australia

Each NamePart is displayed in Research Data Australia and is searchable. A length limit of 80 characters (including spaces) is recommended for compatibility with discovery services, which will often truncate names or collection titles longer than this.

Dates provided within Name are not displayed or searchable.

Best practice

  • Use the NamePart element to record a name or title. All names are stored within the NamePart element, not within the Name wrapper element.
  • A name can be represented by either a single NamePart (as is usually the case for an organisation or group) or may be split into parts using multiple NamePart elements (e.g. for personal names, by title, first name, surname, suffix). When multiple NameParts are used, include them within a single Name element to ensure correct display in Research Data Australia. The use of NameParts for organisations allows for better display of names that have an inherent structure or hierarchy.
  • Use Name Type when more than one name is supplied and there is a need to distinguish between the primary name and alternative versions. The inclusion of acronyms and abbreviations for organisations is recommended to support searching.
  • Use Name Part Types to distinguish between the multiple NamePart instances that together make up a person or an organisation's name so that they can be displayed correctly in Research Data Australia. 
  • There should only be one primary name but it can be encoded in multiple language statements. To record versions of an official name in multiple languages, use multiple instances of the Name element with Name Type set to "primary" and in each statement associate the value string with the appropriate language using the  Lang attribute
  • Only use DateFrom and DateTo attributes if the name has changed over time and older versions of the name have been recorded in the metadata being provided, such as when a research centre has changed its name since the related dataset was created.

Collection titles (names of collections)

Collection titles should be as descriptive as possible, so that they are unique and meaningful to researchers from other disciplines and into the future. For example, titles such as 'Respiration Data' or 'The Aerostar 100 Data Set' may be adequate in a particular discipline database, but not in the general context of Research Data Australia. Keywords, the nature of the data, the location, and date range are useful in the title if they enhance discovery by search engines, for example, 'SAFARI 2000 Upper Air Meteorological Profiles, Skukuza, Dry Seasons 1999-2000'.

Collection titles generally should not use acronyms that would be a barrier to understanding outside a discipline. If acronyms are important for discovery, include an alternative title with acronyms spelled out.

Activity titles (names of activities)

Activities should have a name that is distinct from related groups or collections. If the collection and activity have the same name, suffix "project" to the activity name, or "dataset" or "collection" to the collection name. The activity name is usually already registered with a funder and in the institution's research office, so it is preferable to change the collection name.

XML encoding examples

Personal name split into constituent elements (note that compound names should not be split):

<party type="person">
    <name type="primary" xml:lang="en">
        <namePart type="title">Dr</namePart>
        <namePart type="family">Kincaid-Smith</namePart>
        <namePart type="given">Priscilla S</namePart>
        <namePart type="suffix">AC CBE</namePart>
    <name type="alternative" xml:lang="en">
        <namePart type="family">Fairley</namePart>
        <namePart type="given">Priscilla Sheath</namePart>

Group name showing both primary and abbreviated names:

<party type="group">
    <name type="primary">
        <namePart>Australian Research Council</namePart>
    <name type="abbreviated">

Group name containing superior and subordinate parts and dates:

<party type="group" dateFrom="1997-01-01T00:00:00Z" dateTo="2007-12-31T23:59:59Z">
    <name type="primary">
        <namePart type="superior">Budawang University</namePart>
        <namePart type="subordinate">Division of Environmental Mechanics</namePart>

Group name which has US English and French versions:

<party type="group">
	<name type="primary" xml:lang="en-US"> 
		<namePart><Organization for Standardization></namePart>
	<name type="primary" xml:lang="fr">
 		<namePart><Organisation internationale de normalisation></namePart>

Collection title:

<collection type="dataset">
   <name type="primary">
        <namePart>Upper Air Soundings in Wilkes Land, 1984</namePart>

Change history

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Change history

April 2010

Consultation draft

26 Oct 2010

Changed rules for splitting personal names to align with ARDC People Infrastructure Project

15 April 2011

Corrected to state that nameParts are searchable

23 Sept 2011

Clarification of advice on splitting personal names, information about future name parts for organisations

27 Sept 2011

Clarification of advice on including acronyms in names

21 Nov 2011

Information about RIF-CS v1.3.0 name part types for groups added

12 Jul 2012

Clarification of need for name types, link to party best practice page for party names

11 July 2017Page reviewed and updated
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