The FAIR principles are core when one sets out to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). FAIR data are essential for creating an Internet of FAIR data and Services, opening up (scientific) data for both man and machine. When working with multiple parties in a data-exchange or data-visiting project environment, it is vital to assure that all parties adhere to these principles and are able to reach a predefined level of FAIRness.
One way to improve the required FAIRness of data and services is the introduction of FAIR certification programs. The GO FAIR Foundation (GFF) is currently working on (GO) FAIR certification schemes, among others for FAIR Data Points, a Data Management Plan, a FAIR Training program, a FAIR Implementation Profile or a specific Meta Data Schema, so that these elements can be certified based on clearly defined criteria.
To be eligible for certification FAIR data, tools, services, data-exchange projects and organization need to adhere to 7 common principles.
In 2020 we have worked on the VODAN project– one of the earlier concrete examples of projects that followed the implementation recommendations from GO FAIR. VODAN stands for Virus Outbreak Data Network – a worldwide infrastructure defined and designed to handle real world observations like virus-patient-data, related to the Covid-19 outbreak. With the current pandemic outbreak of the Covid-19 virus the need for certified VODAN FAIR data points became urgent.
The VODAN project is a great example of a worldwide, multi-year project whereby scientific data is stored in a FAIR way, in order for researchers to run smart queries and algorithms on structured patient data, without violating privacy rules and without data leaving their place of origin.
As the metadata of each VODAN participant is published in a VODAN FAIR Data Point (FDP), a need exists to evaluate, endorse and certify this particular FDP-tool. With such a specific FDP-certification the user can be sure that the (meta)data is exposed in a FAIR way and that access protocols and privacy regulations are in place.
The VODAN FDP certificate includes adherence to the chosen semantic model, the defined WHO e-CRF for patient data and other measurable aspects of the defined and agreed FAIR Implementation Profile (FIP) including the agreed Meta-Data-Schema (MDS). This certificate is to be generated automatically by GFF, using a software tool that fires off a smart algorithm.
Implementation of this program requires the following actions :
- VODAN FAIR Data Point (FDP) certifiable specifications, translated into an algorithm that can visit a FDP and evaluate if all certifiable elements are correctly adhered to. The GO FAIR Foundation currently works on these specs, planned to be delivered in 2021.
- Community driven specifications that will lead to standards for the VODAN FAIR Implementation Profile (FIP) and for the VODAN Meta-Data Schema (MDS).
- Mandate & support from community experts to make sure that we have defined the right elements to certify in the VODAN schema.
Added Value of VODAN certification
The added value of VODAN certificate will be the following:
- Increased trust of participating parties in the different networks.
- Quality guarantee that parties in the network adhere to commonly defined, FAIR standards.
- Increased confidence that all published (meta) data in this project is FAIR.
- Possibility to run FAIR evaluations several times per year, thereby providing regular feedback and guidance to parties who do not (yet or no longer) meet the evaluation-criteria.
- Can be used as an example for other projects.
- Could be efficiently extended to include other VODAN elements, like queries and algorithms that are allowed to visit the VODAN FDP’s.