Increasing the ReUse of Data through FAIR enabling Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories
The long-term preservation of digital objects, and the means by which they can be ReUsed, are addressed by both the FAIR Data Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, ReUsable) and a number of standards bodies providing Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) certification, such as the CoreTrustSeal. Upon application to the CoreTrustSeal, repositories are assessed against 16 Requirements which cover organisational infrastructure, digital object management and technical provision. To adequately address these areas (and to assess them) both the repository and the CoreTrustSeal require an understanding of the repository’s designated community and the technical environment that it operates in.
Work related to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), which aims to provide the research community with access to FAIR data and interoperable data services, has recognised the value of the CoreTrustSeal as a certification requirement for repositories in providing assurance that data and metadata become, and remain, FAIR over time. The EOSC has sought to align its practice, and the practice of participating institutions, with the CoreTrustSeal Requirements to ensure Trustworthy storage of FAIR data.
Though many of the requirements listed in the CoreTrustSeal Extended Guidance address the FAIR Data Principles indirectly, there is currently no formal ‘FAIR Certification’ offered by the CoreTrustSeal or other TDR standards bodies such as ISO16363 and nestorSeal.
The FAIRsFAIR project has developed the CoreTrustSeal+FAIRenabling Capability Maturity model (CTS+FAIR CapMat) as a first step in aligning the CoreTrustSeal Requirements and the FAIR Data Principles. A FAIR-Enabling Trustworthy Digital Repositories-Capability Maturity Self Assessment template has also been developed to allow repositories to ascertain their current levels of capability and maturity in relation to both the FAIR Data Principles and TDR best practices.
The CTS+FAIR CapMat addresses a number of areas concerning ReUsability including the provision of Licence Information (R02), Data Integrity and Authenticity (R07) and Data ReUse (R14), alongside other Core requirements. Another output of the FAIRsFAIR project is the F-UJI tool, which is a web-based tool designed to assess the FAIRness of research data objects. Using the tests developed within F-UJI, the FAIR Data Assessment Toolset and Badging Scheme was also created, providing metrics and a series of Practical Tests. Repositories can use this toolset to assess the FAIRness of their practice and the data they preserve, in turn providing a publicly available means to increase the ReUsability of data, amongst other benefits.
The above outcomes are underpinned by the mapping conducted in the FAIR Principles: Baseline Comments, which maps the FAIR Data Principles, RDA Indicators and the Metrics and Practical Tests developed within FAIRsFAIR, providing repositories with a further resource who wish to develop their FAIR practises.
However, increasing the ReUsability of data across the digital preservation landscape is not only dependent on the availability of adequate methods, but also their uptake. This requires a community-wide commitment to develop best practices to increase the ReUse of data and community consensus on what these practices are. Once reached, the best practices can be incorporated within the requirements of the different TDR certification bodies such as the CoreTrustSeal.
A possible way of achieving such a consensus would be through the creation of a network of FAIR-enabling TDRs, as proposed by FAIRsFAIR. Such a network could help ensure that specific and minimal measures are in place to provide evidence that the relevant designated community (as a subset of the wider community of users) are consulted on the necessary requirements to ensure the availability of data for ReUse.