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Meaning & purpose

Existence dates record the start and end dates of the existence of the entity being described. For people, this would include dates of birth and death; for organisations, dates of establishment, incorporation and dissolution; and for projects, commencement and completion dates.

The ExistenceDates element is a wrapper for the following child elements:

  • StartDate: the beginning date for a period of existence for an entity
  • EndDate: the finish date for a period of existence for an entity

Existence Dates attributes

Date Format attribute

The DateFormat attribute is required for StartDate and EndDate elements. A single date or a range of dates can be provided and may include both start and end dates or an open ended date. The W3C Date Time Format (W3CDTF) is the only format specified in the vocabulary.

Use in Research Data Australia

Existence dates are displayed on records for activities, parties and services in Research Data Australia and are used for faceted searching for research grants and projects.

Best practice

  • Use only when describing activities, services and parties. Do not use for collections in the RDA Registry.
  • End dates should be later than start dates. This is not system-enforced.
  • It is acceptable to provide only a start date or only an end date.
  • An open-ended record (that is, without an end date) does not imply that the person, organisation or research project still exists. It simply means that no-one has recorded an end date.
  • Including existence dates for parties makes it easier to match party descriptions to the right person or organisation in the National Library of Australia's Trove-People and Organisations database.
  • Existence dates for a grant should cover the funding period (funding commencement and completion dates) and may not always align with project start and end dates.
  • Do not use proposal dates, award dates or application dates for existence dates for activities.

XML encoding examples

Birth year for a person
<party type="person">
<identifier type="AU-ANL:PEAU">http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-234234></identifier>
<existenceDates>
  <startDate dateFormat="W3CDTF">1976</startDate>
</existenceDates>
<name type="primary">
  <namePart type="family">Smith</namePart>
  <namePart type="given">Mary</namePart>
</name>
</party>
Start and finish dates for a project
<activity type="project">
<identifier type="purl">http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/DP74234></identifier>
<existenceDates>
  <startDate dateFormat="W3CDTF">1999</startDate>
  <endDate dateFormat="W3CDTF">2002-06-30T00:00:00Z</endDate>
</existenceDates>
<name type="primary">
  <namePart>Impact of serotonin uptake inhibitors on symptoms of bi-polar disorder in young patients</namePart>
</name>
</activity>

Change history

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DateChange history
21 Nov 2011First web publication. Element introduced as part of RIF-CS v1.3.0. with effect from 7 Dec 2011.
18 Jun 2012Extra best practice information about open-ended records.
6 Jul 2012

Added advice to use W3CDTF format

2 Nov 2012Removed UTC from the RIF-CS examples
13 Jul 2017Page reviewed and updated