The acronym ‘FAIR’ is being increasingly used to describe the goals of managing and sharing research outputs effectively. So what are we talking about? Sadly not dodgem cars and candy floss!

The FAIR principles state that research data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable, but how it is implemented depends on local policies and systems. Cranfield University supports making data FAIR with its provision of the CORD data repository and its accompanying support service (see the Research Data Management pages on the intranet), as follows:

  • Findable. This means that data should be in a findable location, with a descriptive record that is indexed online. How does CORD help? Data on CORD has a permanent url (DOI) and the records are indexed to be findable via Google, Google Data, the Jisc Research Data Discovery Service, etc.; data is much more findable on CORD than if it is stored on a website or personal drive.
  • Accessible. This means that the data is accessible using a standard open protocol (i.e. you don’t need specific software or to pay to find it), and the record remains accessible even if the data stops being available. How does CORD help? On CORD, data gets a DOI and anyone can type in this DOI to a web browser to retrieve the record. DOIs always link through to a descriptive record, even if the data itself is deleted according to an agreed retention schedule.
  • Interoperable. This means that other systems can understand the data: the metadata (descriptive information such as keywords or funder information) should be interoperable, using shared fields or agreed formats. How does CORD help? CORD categories use a central taxonomy to improve the browsing and discovery experience, and these categories are used by all other users of the figshare repository system. Author records can include ORCIDs to enable interoperability with other systems. Funding metadata can be entered in an agreed format so outputs from a particular grant can be automatically retrieved, with more developments in metadata interoperability upcoming in CORD.
  • Reusable. This means that other humans can understand the data: it should be made available with clear information on how it can be used and cited, generally with a licence and explicit citation text. How does CORD help? CORD automatically displays a copiable citation for others reusing your data, and provides a list of suggested licences (with our support service advising on the most appropriate for your situation).

So hopefully it is very simple to make your data FAIR here, just be sure to pop it on CORD with appropriate clear metadata. If this topic interests you, there is a current Jisc project called “FAIR in practice“. Researchers can attend a Jisc FAIR focus group in London in September, looking at the current state of FAIR data and identifying opportunities for improvement, in order to enhance research in the UK.


CC-BY-NC image by Mike Rodriguez on Flickr

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