Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Library Research Support: Open Research: F.A.I.R. data principles

This guide is intended to provide advice and support on open access research, including guidance around Durham Research Online (DRO), open access publishing, research data management and related topics.

Introduction

European funders such as the European Research Council or the European Commission would like to know how you will make your research data follow the F.A.I.R. data principles.  Please find some guidance on this topic below.  Two developers have created the F-UJI assessment tool to determine to what extent your published research data follows the principles.

Findable

Your funder may want to know how you will make your research data (and code) Findable.  This simply means easy to find.  When you deposit your dataset (and code) in a data repository it becomes easy to find because a DOI is attached to it.  The metadata you attach to the dataset also improves findability.  Consider attaching the name of your project, funder or both to every dataset.  Always attach suitable subject keyword phrases to each dataset you create.  If you use the Zenodo repository, you could group all your datasets together in one Zenodo community as this would further improve findability.  Code is managed better in GitHub but a specific version of code could be deposited together with a dataset in a data repository.  Alternatively create a tag in a Git repository and link it with your data deposit.

Interoperable

Your funder may be interested to know how Interoperable your research data will be.  Interoperability specifically means using standards to allow machines (computers) to exchange and read research data.  This is difficult to do and funders know it.  But there are a few things you can do:  (1) Use open file formats if possible and avoid proprietary formats; (2) Use data and metadata formats commonly used in your discipline; (3) Structure data and metadata together, for example, in XML format.  This depends on the standards used in your discipline.

Accessible

Your funder may want to know how Accessible your research data will be.  The general principle is research data needs to be as open as possible but as closed as necessary. Funders expect research data to be published openly in order to facilitate reproducible and transparent research.  However there are three exceptions to publishing open data:  ethical reasons, public safety reasons and commercial reasons.  It is completely acceptable to keep research data under embargo for a limited period until you obtain a patent.  A Data Access Statement expresses the accessibility of your research data concisely.  For example:

  • Our supporting research data will be published in the [insert name of repository] open data repository.  DOI forthcoming.
  • Our supporting research data will be published with restrictions as described in the Non-disclosure Agreement or the End-User Licence Agreement.
  • Our supporting research data will not be published because it is too sensitive.
  • No new research data was generated.

Re-usable

Your funder may want to know how you will make your research data Re-usable.  Good data documentation and appropriate licences can make a big difference.  You will need to write comprehensive documentation which describes your dataset.  What research methods will you use?  What scientific equipment or instruments?  What calibration?  What environmental or experimental conditions?  What software (including version numbers)?  Most of this documentation will go in a README file.  Finally, you must attach a licence to your dataset.  The University recommends attaching a CC-BY licence to datasets because this will enable others to re-use the data as long as they cite you as the original creator of the dataset.  Creative Commons Australia have created a licence poster which compares different CC licences.  There is also a tool to help you choose a licence.