Support to Data Repositories, Semantics and Data Policies: FAIRsFAIR partners recently analysed the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Interest and Working Groups to identify those whose priorities most closely match our own.  The FAIRsFAIR Top 10 is presented here.

Support to Data Repositories

A key focus area for FAIRsFAIR is supporting European data repositories in achieving CoreTrustSeal certification. Allied to this is a drive to design implementation features to increase interoperability - the so-called “FAIRification” of data repositories. 
More than seventy repositories responded to an Open Call which was issued in June 2019 and closed at the end of  August. By October 2019, work towards certification in the selected repositories will have started and the first outcomes will be available. 

Three RDA interest groups were identified as relevant in this area: RDA/WDS Certification of Digital Repositories, Repository Platforms for Research Data, and Open Science Graphs for FAIR data. In addition, two working groups were indentified.

  • RDA/WDS Certification of Digital Repositories Interest Group
    Building on previous work in the area of certification, this group plans to deliver the global overview and the recommendations and requirements necessary to enable the effective implementation of certification for digital repositories on a national, European and even global level. They have a particular interest in proposing solutions for the problems experienced by research infrastructures that need FIM services in order to operate their facilities and serve their user communities.
  • Repository Platforms for Research Data Interest Group
    The aim of this group is to improve the technical capabilities of repository platforms so that vocabularies may be used and mapped across domains. Developing an activity time line as they proceed, the group will also promote good practice amongst producers and consumers of controlled vocabularies. 
  • Open Science Graphs for FAIR data Interest Group
    With a focus on achieving interoperability between the services and information models of Open Science Graph initiatives, this group aims to improve FAIRness in research data, and more generally FAIR*-ness in science, by enabling the smooth exchange of the interlinked metadata overlay required to access research data at the meta-level (discovery-for-citation/monitoring) and at the thematic level (discovery-for-reuse)
  • FAIR Data Maturity Model Working Group
    This group will bring together a broad range of stakeholders active and/or interested in evaluating their FAIR data uptake and implementation levels. Their aim is to develop as an RDA Recommendation a common set of core assessment criteria for FAIRness, and a generic and expandable self-assessment model for measuring the maturity level of datasets.
  • FAIRSharing Registry: connecting data policies, standards & databases Working Group
    Based at the University of Oxford in the UK, guided by an international Advisory Board, and funded by several projects, FAIRsharing is a curated, informative and educational resource on data and metadata standards, inter-related to repositories and data policies. FAIRsharing guides consumers to discover, select and use these resources with confidence, and producers to make their resources more findable, more widely adopted and cited. A flagship output of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and core to several GO-FAIR activities, FAIRsharing is adopted by a number of other stakeholder communities, and also leads on and contributes to a number of collaborative projects and activities implementing a FAIR-enabling ecosystem of resources. FAIRsFAIR and FAIRsharing  will use, adopt and recommend to the community each other's work, to avoid re-invention, as well as working jointly on new areas of common interest.
    See also the FAIRsharing website


Semantics play a fundamental role in making data FAIR. However, the heterogeneity of technical and metadata and semantic resources, and the variety of data repositories already in existence pose a challenge to effective data integration. This inhibits the reuse of data in multi-disciplinary data science endeavours.    

FAIRsFAIR has invited semantics experts and owners of repositories and infrastructures to its co-located event at RDA 14th Plenary meeting in October. The meeting is  entitled Building the data landscape of the future: FAIR Semantics and FAIR Repositories and participants will brainstorm about about how to achieve interoperability and FAIRness. In addition, FAIRsFAIR launched a survey on semantics and interoperability, targeted data curators, architects, developers to know what kind of formats, semantic artefacts, identifiers and software practices they see in the scientific community they work with (deadline is September 22). Three RDA groups are relevant here and have also been invited to contribute to the survey.

  • Vocabulary Services Interest Group
    The VSIG seeks to develop recommendations for community-based approaches to the publication of controlled vocabularies on the Internet.
  • Harmonizing FAIR Descriptions of Observational Data Working Group
    Known by the acronym I-ADOPT WG (InteroperAble Descriptions of Observable Property Terminology) this working group aims to create a community-agreed framework for representing observable properties. They will bring together groups of experts already working to develop associated terminologies, strengthening existing collaborations and building new connections.
  • From Observational Data to Information Interest Group
    This group provides a platform to advance a shared understanding of the relationship between data and information, primarily in the context of environmental research infrastructures and specifically regarding observational data and semantic information. They aim to layer information and knowledge-based systems over the current data systems to improve human usability, and also to enable the automated machine processing of information.

Data policy

FAIRsFAIR is directing significant effort towards improving FAIR policy and practice in order to foster a FAIR data culture throughout Europe. A working group led by the Digital Curation Centre (Wp3 FAIR Policy and Practice) at the University of Edinburgh has been tasked with working collaboratively across the full range of stakeholders to:

  • analyse current policy and make recommendations regarding enhancements.
  • define the requirements for repositories and service providers to support FAIR.

As part of this activity, a survey is being distributed (with deadline 22 September 2019) focusing on the range of policies influencing the way that researchers work,  what motivates researchers when sharing data and metadata, and what sources of support are currently available. The stakeholders include the ESFRI Clusters, the EOSC Secretariat, and the EOSC5b projects, and the RDA Community.  The related RDA groups are listed below.

  • Data Policy Standardisation and Implementation Interest Group
    This groups aims to continue the work initiated in 2014 by the RDA DFT Working Group to support the maintenance of basic data concepts and framework models along with their vocabularies. A key aspect of the work is broadening model and vocabulary agreements across RDA groups and their representative communities and stakeholders. The group also works with publishers to create standardised, machine-readable journal data policies to enhance journal selection and ensure compliance with journal and funder data requirements.
  • Exposing Data Management Plans Working Group
    This group is working to create a Use Case Catalogue which describes implementation scenarios in case study format and articulates their benefits to researchers and other stakeholders. With the overall aim of creating a community-endorsed approach to data sharing, they will produce a Reference Model documenting generic components and common workflow designs for exposing plans and the metadata associated with them. They will also offer recommendations for further actions by each stakeholder group.
  • Education and Training on Handling Research Data Interest Group
    For this group, the focus is on setting quality standards for the administration and recognition of education and training programmes for researchers at all career stages. As such, they also work with employees, employers, and professional bodies, preparing the ground for the practical application of these standards in educational environments.


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ABOUT RDA - The RDA Explained

The Research Data Alliance (RDA) is a community-driven organisation launched in 2013 by the European Commission, the United States Government’s National Science Foundation and National institute of Standards and Technology, and the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation. The goal of the RDA is to build the social and technical infrastructure needed to enable open sharing of data across technologies, disciplines and countries. In June 2018, the RDA counted over 7000 members from 137 different countries and from various backgrounds, including data professionals researchers, librarians and policy developers. Individual membership to the RDA is free for anyone who supports the RDA mission and its guiding principles.

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