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Suggested vocabulary change

Addition of a new activity type vocabulary term ‘grant’.

The current Activity Type vocabulary which is copied directly from the ISO2146 standard is -

  • award: something given to recognize excellence in a certain field (not used)
  • course: education imparted in a series of lessons or meetings (not used)
  • event: something that happens at a particular place or time as an organized activity with participants or an audience (not used)
  • program: system of activities intended to meet a public need (234 contributed records)
  • project: piece of work that is undertaken or attempted, with a start and end date and defined objectives (1728 contributed records)

This proposal is for an additional vocabulary term. The new term and its description would be:

grant: a funding grant awarded to partially or fully fund a research project, research facility, research program, equipment grant, fellowship, traineeship etc

Although there are currently 5 activity records in RDA with the type of ‘award’,  this type should not have been used as two are PhD research topics (project),  two are fellowship programs (grant), and one a bequest to fund digitisation and maintenance of an archive (grant).


Problem this suggestion addresses

The ANDS registry contains descriptions of research projects and programs supplied from two very different sources:

(a) descriptions of grants supplied to ANDS by funders as data spreadsheets (these are loaded into the registry by ANDS staff as activity records)
(b) activity records harvested from ANDS contributors which describe research projects or programs (these are descriptions of the actual project or the program rather than the grant which may have funded it although there is often little difference). In the case where the institution itself funds a project they can submit a grant description as well as the project description.

In analysing the requirements for a search interface for research activity (now that the main RDA search will only return data collection descriptions), there are use cases which require filtering of searches to grants only, and the new search results design will merge results with the same identifier so it needs to be obvious which entry is supplied by the funder and describes the grant and which describes the project. 

The addition of ‘grant’ as an activity type will allow (a) and (b) to be distinguishable via the RIF-CS metadata rather than needing to distinguish by the source of the data (contributor). 

Identified by

ANDS Staff


RIF-CS schema components affected

registryObject:activity /@type


Impact on content providers

This change will not affect ANDS contributors who can continue to use the two activity types 'program' and 'project'.

A scan of activity records supplied by contributors indicates there are few who currently supply activity records (1967 records in total) and within these there is inconsistency in the use of project vs program For some large programs like Centres of Excellence, Research Networks and Facilities, they are recorded as party records in the registry and not programs, even though they are not permanent organisations. It is recommended that the Content Providers guide be revisited to provide more clarity and examples and consideration be given to deprecating the ‘program’ activity type and converting activity records of this type to the type ‘project’ or to a party record.

Currently the funders do not contribute directly to ANDS and we maintain the activity records for grants based on data spreadsheets they supply to us.


An important distinction can be made between the research project descriptions which are supplied by research institutions and agencies and the grant information supplied by the funder which is a description of what the project is intended to achieve and the funding timeframe rather than what may actually occur over time. Also projects can have multiple sources of funding or may be funded internally from the normal operating budget and have no associated grant.


There is no burden on data providers.


Technical options

Each time we receive an updated spreadsheet of funding grants we do a complete refresh, so the crosswalk can be changed so the Activity Type will be 'grant’.

The vocabs.xml file will need to be amended to add the new vocabulary term and its definition.

The vocabularies.html will need to be regenerated to reflect the addition of new terms and the changes to the descriptions of the activity types.

A change will be required to the Content Providers Guide.

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