Access and Feeds

Open Data: Data May Not Be Open, But is it FAIR?

By Dick Weisinger

Governments and academics are increasingly opening up their data sets for the research community.  A survey by Figshare found organizations increasingly opening up the data which they acquire.

But more importantly, more organizations sharing data are providing that data according to the principles of FAIR: an acronym for Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability. It is sometimes referred to as the “FAIR Guiding Principles of scientific data management and stewardship.”  The guidelines were formulated as an attempt to enable greater reusability of data.  Surprisingly, the Figshare survey found that 60 percent had never heard of FAIR.

FAIR data sets need not follow the Open Source philosophy of being freely available for use without licenses, copyrights or patents.  FAIR data can still be private and limited in scope as to who can access it.  Conversely, Open Data sets may not be FAIR — FAIR guidelines mean that data is easily accessible and usable, not just dumped with no clear description of how it can be used.

Mark Hahnel, CEO of Figshare, said: “In recent years we’ve seen the conversation move from data not only being open but being FAIR.”

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