RIS Format: 2 Great Missions - Custom Scholars

RIS Format: 2 Great Missions

RIS Format File

The RIS format is a standardized tag format developed by Research Information Systems Company. This is not exactly a referencing style but it is a referencing format that is often attached to journal articles.

Often, when you attempt to access the referencing information for a journal article, you will receive numerous options for how you want to view it. The RIS format will help you distinguish between different elements of the bibliographical information therefore making it easy to adopt different styles.

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The tag includes two letters, two spaces, and a hyphen to express bibliographic citation information. Each tag supports a different field. The different elements of the reference are each identified by a two-character tag name, starting with TY for Reference Type and ending with ER (End of Reference). In the following illustration, you are able to differentiate between elements. This comes in handy if the style in which the article is referenced is not common or you are unfamiliar with.

Alabdulkareem, Ahmad & Frank, Morgan & Sun, Lijun & Alshebli, Bedoor & Hidalgo, Cesar & Rahwan, Iyad. (2018). Unpacking the polarization of workplace skills. Science Advances. 4. eaao6030. 10.1126/sciadv.aao6030. TY  – JOURAU  – Alabdulkareem, Ahmad

AU  – Frank, Morgan

AU  – Sun, Lijun

AU  – Alshebli, Bedoor

AU  – Hidalgo, Cesar

AU  – Rahwan, Iyad

PY  – 2018/07/01

SP  – eaao6030

T1  – Unpacking the polarization of workplace skills

VL  – 4

DO  – 10.1126/sciadv.aao6030

JO  – Science Advances

ER  –

A RIS format file is a tag file format for exchange of bibliographic data by citation programs. It contains multiple lines of citation data, consisting of a two-character code and corresponding value delimited by a hyphen.

Citation information included in an RIS  file includes data such as author, title, publication date, keywords, publisher, abstract, author address, etc. RIS  files are human-readable and can be opened with any text editor such as Microsoft Notepad, Notepad++, and Apple TextEdit.

RIS files are stored in plain text

RIS format files are stored as plain text file. Each line in an RIS  file consists of a two letter code (also known as tags), followed by two spaces and a hyphen, and the corresponding value. Due to tags, RIS FORMAT files are known as tagged format for representation of bibliographic citations.

Most citation management tools use the RIS format to properly tag information to the correct field (i.e. Author, Title, Journal Title, etc.). Most scholarly databases also include RIS format as one of their export options. See below for a list of .ris compatible tools and databases.

Purpose of RIS Format

To Transfer Bibliographic InfoPurpose of RIS format

The RIS format can be used to transfer references to and from different programs. The most common use of RIS format is for exporting search results from a database into a citation management tool. In this example, the search results from a .ris-compatible database are exported by selecting RIS format, or occasionally a format specific for a referencing software (e.g. EndNote, RefWorks).

In the latter case, it is using RIS format behind the scenes, but making it clearer to the user which option should be chosen. The database then converts the selected references into a raw format that the citation management tool can interpret. The user than either imports the file into their software program or they have their browser settings set to open an RIS file automatically in a specified program.

When using the reference manager in Microsoft word, it will be as simple as simply copying information from the RIS  file into the fields in the reference manager in word. This makes it so much simpler especially for referencing styles whose punctuation guidelines are complicated.

To Create a Library in Referencing Software

RIS files (file extension is .ris) are also a great option for long-term preservation. You may want to archive an EndNote Library you no longer use to save space, by preserving the citation records in an RIS FORMAT file, if needed in the future, the file can simply be imported and repopulated in EndNote (or another software program). The same goes for if somebody sends you an RIS FORMAT file of references, you can keep it in your records and, when needed, simply import it into an EndNote Library.

When doing this, it is best to have the target EndNote Library (most often a newly created one) already open on your computer so that when you double click on the RIS file the references are imported directly into that Library, otherwise EndNote may default to the most recent used library.

If you want to preserve your own RIS files you can get them from Downloads (for example, in Chrome go to Downloads and then click Show in Folder, then copy to/save the RIS FORMAT file where you want it to be) and rename it as needed.

Which Databases Use RIS Format?

Most databases like Medline, ERIC, PsychINFO and others have the option of viewing bibliographical information in .ris. This makes it easy for people to use those journal articles as sources for their own papers as referencing becomes easy.

This is especially important as it means you do not have to be forced to use a database that only uses a referencing style you recognize. However, there are also some databases that do not apply the RIS format in referencing like PubMed, for example.

PubMed uses their own proprietary file format created by the National Library of Medicine. This “PubMed format” also known as MEDLINE tagged format, replaced RIS format so that it could better accommodate specific fields of information only found in PubMed (such as PMID). The file extension for the PubMed format is .nbib and it is essentially a .txt file format that can be opened and modified – this is not advised!

Apart from RIS format, bibliographic information may also be presented as .bibtex or in plain text. .bibtex is a lot more complex. Plain text may be the reference in a certain style or it may simply be the bibliographic information written out, which can be confusing.

To Recap…

If you are interested in learning how to apply various referencing styles, look for bibliographic information in the RIS format. This should help you put everything where it should be as required by the manuals. Over time, you will learn to simply do it without referring to the manual.

The RIS  file is a tagged file format used for bibliographic information, in both a variety of scholarly databases, journals, and library catalogs, as well as in certain citation management programs. Contact us to learn more about referencing.

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