FAIR principles for research software: a step forwards in discoverability
- The FAIR (‘findable’, ‘accessible’, ‘interoperable’, and ‘reusable’) principles of data management have now been applied to the development of research software.
- The FAIR for Research Software (FAIR4RS) principles have been published alongside practical illustrative examples, to give researchers clear guidance on their implementation.
Despite the publication of the FAIR (‘findable’, ‘accessible’, ‘interoperable’ and ‘reusable’) principles of data management in 2016, data discoverability continues to be a challenging field, hampered by issues such as lack of awareness and inadequate implementation. An article by Michelle Barker et al in Scientific Data outlines how FAIR principles can be applied to the development of research software, to improve data management and stewardship.
FAIR principles can be applied to the development of research software, to improve data management and stewardship.
Developed by the FAIR for Research Software (FAIR4RS) working group, the FAIR4RS principles recommend that software and, when relevant, associated metadata are:
- Findable: simple for humans and machines to find, including via a unique identifier, and described by rich metadata
- Accessible: retrievable using standardised protocols
- Interoperable: interoperable with other software and/or by application
- Reusable: “Can be understood, modified, built upon, or incorporated into other software”.
The authors provide three real-life examples of the successful implementation of the FAIR4RS principles, to give researchers clear, practical guidance:
- A command-line tool: Comet is an open-source tool. The details of its development, its metadata, and the software itself are all freely available and findable.
- Complex research software: The software PuReGoMe analysed real-time data on public attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The software has a unique identifier and independently accessible metadata that are searchable and indexable.
- Graphical user interfaces: gammaShiny is available in a national archive under a public licence and has a persistent unique identifier.
The aspirational FAIR4RS principles provide a means to further improve the transparency and reproducibility of research. To ensure their effective implementation, software owners and developers should consider the principles early in the development process.
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