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The FAIR principles

The FAIR data principles are a set of guiding principles to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable, so that data can be found, understood and reused by others.  

Why adhere to the FAIR principles?

There is a need to improve the infrastructure that supports the reuse of scientific data. Stakeholders from the academic world, industry, funding organisations and scientific publishers have agreed to a set of FAIR data principles, which serve as guidelines for those wanting to improve the ability of their data being reused.

Benefits of using the FAIR principles

  • Strategy: You have a strategy for good data management in your project 
  • Exposure: Your work becomes more transparent and credible, and the exposure will earn you recognition when used or cited, and create opportunities for collaboration  
  • Timesaving: You save time when you find research data that have already been generated and minimise the risk of wasting time and money by duplicating work
  • Spin-outs: You make it possible to reuse research data, for example, for new analyses and possible spin-outs 
  • Society: You help society access publicly funded research data 
  • Compliance: You comply with international standards and institutional policies

How can you make your data FAIR?

Data Management plans and FAIR

When preparing a data management plan, you are complying with the principles of openness and transparency by documenting provenance of the data. By describing who has created the data and metadata, as well as when and under what conditions the data were generated, the data management plan contributes to understanding the data and making research results reproducible. Read more about the benefits of creating data management plans.     

Persistent Identifiers and FAIR

A persistent identifier (PID) is a unique key which is used to permanently identify a given document, dataset or person. Often, there are a few descriptive metadata associated with a PID. PIDs allow other people to find and refer to your data. In line with the FAIR principles, PID make data findable and accessible (the "F" and the "A" in the FAIR principles).   

Examples of persistent identifiers:  

  • A document object identifier (DOI) is used for documents, data and datasets. Most repositories can generate and maintain DOIs or other PIDs  
  • Researcher IDs are another example of PIDs. They are used to ensure that one particular person is not confused with another person, for example with the same name, by assigning a unique number to each person. ORCID is an example of a researcher ID where a person is assigned a unique number which can be used for identification

Licenses for datasets and FAIR

Data licenses are used to show whether your data can be used by others, and how the data can be reused (the "R" in the FAIR principles)

Research data holds considerable value for you, but also for researchers around the world. You can make it easier for others to refer to or use your research data by sharing your data with a clear license. Read more about licenses.

Metadata and FAIR

Working with metadata is fundamental when you want to make your research compatible with the FAIR principles. Metadata ensure that your research and research data follow the FAIR principles, even when your data are closed, because the data are confidential, or they contain sensitive personal information etc. 

Adding metadata to your datasets ensures that data can be found by both people and machines. Metadata supports the "F", "A", "I" and "R" in the FAIR principles.

Repositories and FAIR

Repositories can help you make your data findable, accessible and reusable (the "F", "A" and "R" in the FAIR principles).  

The repositories can guide you a long way in making your research compatible with the FAIR principles. If you publish your data in an open repository such as Dataverse, Zenodo, or Figshare, these will, for example, be able to help you:

  • set up a DOI
  • have relevant fields for metadata and descriptions
  • assign a data license to your data

At AU, we do not have an institutional repository, but there are numerous open repositories which you can use. Often the choice will  depend on the subject area, but there are also a number of inter-disciplinary repositories.

Would you like to know more about the FAIR principles?

There are several resources where you can read, view or hear more about the FAIR principles: 

Need help?

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the liaison librarian associated with your field, who will be happy to assist you with your questions.

Alternatively, you are always welcome to contact your local library.