RISM is recognized within the music world as the central place for the documentation of music primary sources. In 34 countries around the world, one or more national RISM working groups participate in this project. In total, about 100 people describe the musical sources housed in their countries and transmit the results to the RISM Zentralredaktion in Frankfurt, which then edits and publishes the entries within the corresponding series.
The RISM publications are divided into the following series:
- Series A: inventories alphabetically by composer
- Series B: bibliographies of materials organized by topic
- Series C: directories of music research libraries