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FAIR Principles

The FAIR Principles are a set of guiding principles aimed at making data and other research outputs Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. First described in 2016, these principles have rapidly come to define best practice in the management of research data, and much attention has been focused internationally on detailing what these principles mean in practice and determining how to assess the quality of their implementation. The DRI has contributed to this process, through the European Commission’s expert group on FAIR, which produced the Turning FAIR into Reality report, through involvement in the RDA FAIR Data Maturity Model Working Group, and through the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) FAIR working group.

The DRI is committed to the advocacy and policy efforts around the FAIR principles in national and international contexts and has also pioneered their implementation in Ireland in the context of a trustworthy and certified repository for social sciences and humanities data. Our work around FAIRification has focused on optimising policies, consistent application of persistent identifiers including DOIs and ORCIDs, rich and standardised metadata that is indexed and searchable, promoting the use of vocabularies and licenses for reuse. 

All objects within the DRI are assigned a unique identifier within the repository on ingest and automatically assigned a persistent identifier (PID),  a DataCite Digital Object Identifier (DOI), when published.The DOI is included in the citation which can be exported from the repository. 

Datasets or Digital Objects ingested into DRI are described by rich metadata. DRI supports ingest of metadata in numerous formats including Dublin Core, Qualified Dublin Core, EAD, MODS or MARC XML formats. DRI also provides tabular templates to assist users in gathering metadata with additional guidance, and tools for exporting from a tabular format to Qualified Dublin Core for batch ingest into the Repository. DRI also publishes several guidelines and fact sheets about metadata and runs regular training courses to help users to provide quality metadata. DRI supports the use of vocabularies, it provides links to standard vocabularies and has an autocomplete function for ingestion forms using linked open data vocabularies. 

All objects in the Repository require a Rights statement which provides information about the rights holder and permitted reuse. Each object also has a Licence associated with it which can be selected from any of the supported DRI licences. The Licences specify under what conditions the digital assets can be reused. All of the descriptive metadata is reusable under a CC-BY licence.

Below, we outline some of the specific ways that we have addressed the different elements of FAIR.

Findable

F1. (Meta)data are assigned a globally unique and persistent identifier

F2. Data are described with rich metadata

F3. Metadata clearly and explicitly include the identifier of the data they describe

F4. (Meta)data are registered or indexed in a searchable resource

All objects within the DRI are assigned a unique identifier within the repository on ingest. They are further automatically assigned a persistent identifier (PID) when first published. The PID used is a DataCite Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

The DOI is included in the citation which can be exported from the Repository.

The internal DRI unique identifier can also be used to create relationships between multiple objects. These relations enable researchers to, for example, link a publication to its data, or to link a dataset to documentation describing how the dataset was collected.

Datasets or Digital Objects ingested into DRI are described by rich metadata. These include a number of mandatory fields such as Title, Description, Rights and so on, as well as a large number of recommended fields including subjects, places, dates, etc. All metadata is indexed into a Solr Search Engine and can be searched either across all fields, or by searching certain individual fields including Subjects, Person names, etc.

Accessible

A1. (Meta)data are retrievable by their identifier using a standardised communications protocol

A1.1 The protocol is open, free, and universally implementable

A1.2 The protocol allows for an authentication and authorisation procedure, where necessary

A2. Metadata are accessible, even when the data are no longer available

Metadata and data can be retrieved over the HTTPS protocol, in a web browser or programmatically via a REST API. While metadata is always accessible, there may be cases where access to data files is restricted, e.g. where the data contains potentially identifiable personal information. In this case the data is still available to authenticated and authorised users over HTTPS, and can be downloaded by authenticated applications.

In the case where data is removed, the metadata remains available.

Interoperable

I1. (Meta)data use a formal, accessible, shared, and broadly applicable language for knowledge representation.

I2. (Meta)data use vocabularies that follow FAIR principles

I3. (Meta)data include qualified references to other (meta)data    

All metadata in the DRI use formal, accessible, shared and domain appropriate metadata standards. DRI chose to implement these particular standards because they were widely used by our designated community, and support current disciplinary practices.

The metadata can be entered via an online form which enforces the input of the mandatory fields, allows users to search various controlled vocabularies for metadata values, and provides tooltips and guidance to assist users in making decisions about the metadata that they enter. For users who have already catalogued their data in an external system, the DRI supports ingest of metadata in Dublin Core, Qualified Dublin Core, EAD, MODS or MARC XML formats. DRI also provides tabular templates to assist users in gathering metadata with additional guidance, and tools for exporting from a tabular format to Qualified Dublin Core for batch ingest into the Repository. DRI also publishes several guidelines and fact sheets about metadata and runs regular training courses to help users to provide quality metadata.

A machine readable version of the object can be retrieved as a JSON or RDF record. This includes the main metadata fields as well as links to the digital asset file(s), related objects, licence, etc. This information can also be exported in Bagit Format.

The internal DRI unique identifier can also be used to create relationships between multiple objects. These relations enable researchers to, for example, link a publication to its data, or to link a dataset to documentation describing how the dataset was collected.

Reusable

R1. Meta(data) are richly described with a plurality of accurate and relevant attributes

R1.1. (Meta)data are released with a clear and accessible data usage license

R1.2. (Meta)data are associated with detailed provenance

R1.3. (Meta)data meet domain-relevant community standards

All objects in the repository require a Rights statement which should give information about the rights holder and permitted reuse. Each object must also have a Licence associated with it which can be selected from any of the supported DRI licences. The Licences specify under what conditions the digital assets can be reused. All of the descriptive metadata is reusable under a CC0 licence.

Where appropriate, information about how the data was gathered is also ingested along with the main dataset. This is uploaded as documentation for a collection, or sub-collection of digital objects. A link to the Documentation is displayed on the object or dataset’s landing page.

Technical metadata about the file format and other significant properties is automatically generated, as is provenance metadata relating to actions carried out on the file after it has been ingested. This additional metadata is stored with the object.