The mission of the SRIFIAS is to encourage and support scholarly research in all aspects of Inner Asian Studies. One of the central tasks of the SRIFIAS is to maintain and develop scholarly and technical resources necessary for research in Inner Asian studies. To this end the SRIFIAS has built up an invaluable library collection of reference works, monographs, and microfilms of print and manuscript materials on Inner Asian subjects. The SRIFIAS also reaches the research and educational community through its extensive and growing list of publications.

Established in 1967 as the Asian Studies Research Institute (ASRI), and renamed the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (RIFIAS) in 1979, the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies assumed its current name in 2007. It is an independent, non-profit institution accountable to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the Bloomington campus of Indiana University. The RIFIAS has had five directors: Prof. Denis Sinor (1967-81), Dr. Stephen Halkovic (1982-85), Prof. Yuri Bregel (1986-97), Prof. Devin DeWeese (1997-2007), and Prof. Edward Lazzerini (2007-present).