Top 6 data attributes for policymakers

Since 2016, when the FAIR Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) were first published to address data reusability, the concept has gone a long way towards becoming a well-established foundation for those working with biological data. The policy world has been no exception to the permeability of the FAIR Principles across all life sciences domains. 

In this area, FAIRsharing is committed to harmonising standards, databases, and policy metadata for all disciplines, including the life sciences. The Oxford-based ELIXIR-UK resource recommended by ELIXIR, funders, publishers and other stakeholders, is a curated, informative, and educational resource that contains more than 4k records on data and metadata standards and their interrelations (knowledge graphs) with databases and data policies.

In collaboration with recent efforts led by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), FAIRsharing helped identify concrete expectations for UK institutions around open research data ( As part of this work, FAIRsharing policy metadata  now aligns with the attributes from three  sources:

By aligning these resources to the type of information stored within its policy records, FAIRsharing has made it easier than ever to create FAIR-aligned data policies and make policy descriptions more accessible to humans and machines. Such efforts can make monitoring the policy landscape more straightforward and efficient in the years to come.

The six common data attributes

As an immediate result of this mapping, the resource has identified six common attributes:

  1. Requirements for data sharing
  2. Exceptions around data sharing
  3. Whether or not policies reference/recommend specific standards or protocols to be adopted.
  4. Recommending the use of trusted digital repositories
  5. Expectations around data citation
  6. If guidance, training and support are provided to support compliance

These six key policy attributes evidence the importance of standards and databases for policymakers.

This work highlights the features of data policies that are most important to the RDM community and shows where policymakers who are updating or creating new policies should focus their efforts. FAIRsharing will continue to work with other initiatives to ensure that institutions have implemented sustainable arrangements for open research data.”

Dr Allyson Lister, FAIRsharing Content and Community Coordinator

More information

FAIRsharing’s alignment with community efforts: 

Allyson Lister & Joy Davidson (2024). Alignment of FAIRsharing Policy Attributes with Community Efforts (1.0.0). Zenodo.

FAIRsharing is part of the ELIXIR-UK Node Service Delivery Plan and is provided to the broad ELIXIR community by the University of Oxford’s Data Readiness Group. 

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