The GO FAIR Foundation (GFF) has been asked by various sectors to provide FAIR certification for FAIR-related resources. This request has come from a broad range of stakeholders and concerns the widely perceived need for independent third-party criteria and validation of resources with respect to the FAIR Principles. for technical components, domain-relevant standards, FAIR-related training, for FAIR implementation events (e.g. M4M and FIP workshops), for people (demonstrating various FAIR-related competencies) and organizations that aspire are committed to FAIR practices. It is believed that certification, when appropriately applied, can be a powerful accelerator of convergence onto wide-spread FAIR implementations. 

In response, the GO FAIR Foundation has initiated a Pioneer Program to bootstrap an approach to certification beginning with a limited number of early mover experts and organizations that have clearly established themselves as global leaders in FAIR implementation. The GO FAIR Foundation invites these experts and organizations as “GO FAIR Pioneers” to work together to build the first generation criteria for FAIR certification. 

The Pioneer Program tasks willing experts to define achievable levels of FAIRness for Events, People, and Technology. The Pioneers work together in an open, transparent process to produce certification criteria and evaluation mechanisms (certification schema). This process has 5 stages:  

  1. Schema Development: Pioneer experts define objective requirements and compliance tests that compose the GO FAIR Foundation certification schema.
  2. Schema Review: Knowledgeable and independent third-parties are assembled to give critical review of the GO FAIR Foundation schema. 
  3. Schema Publication: GO FAIR Foundation publishes the schema [as FAIR machine-actionable resources]. 
  4. Certification: Professional certification organizations can then adopt the GO FAIR Foundation schema to build and execute compliance tests (automated where possible) and grant certifications [as FAIR, machine-actionable resources]. 
  5. Schema Maintenance: Regular, iterative review and update of the schema are conducted to track continuing technological advances and method development. 

The Pioneer Program results in schema and certificates in the form of nanopublications. Nanopublication is a lightweight, semantically enabled, machine-actionable assertion with its accompanying provenance information. Nanopublications can be identified using a TrustyURIs ensuring that the content of the nanopublication is unforgeable and incorruptible. As such, nanopublications can be used as trustworthy ‘tags’ to certify that Events, People, and Technology have been evaluated and found to comply with the requirements defined by the GO FAIR Foundation schema. 

Experts and organizations that choose to participate in the Pioneer Program will be recognized as “GO FAIR Pioneers” (also through nanopublication certificates) and will keep this status in perpetuity. However, as the name suggests, the Pioneer Program is a temporary kick-start, and should be seen as the first step towards a wider and more rigorous certification program to be developed in the coming years.