Information from ICSU CODATA

The information below is an extract from an email received through the ICSU CODATA mailing list. It is considered with FAIR guiding principles and how to described these.

On 20-21 May 2019, representatives of the research data community met at the CODATA headquarters in Paris to take the first steps in building a terminology to describe FAIR stewardship skills (the skills necessary to make data FAIR and keep them FAIR): the tag #terms4FAIRskills was used on Twitter during the event.

Why is this important?

There have been a number of efforts to develop training materials and to list the competencies required for data stewardship. Building on these previous efforts, the participants of the workshop took the first steps towards creating a formalised terminology describing competencies, skills and knowledge associated with activities involved in making data FAIR. When mature, this will have a variety of use cases, including:

  • to assist with the creation and assessment of stewardship curricula;
  • to help facilitate the annotation, discovery and evaluation of FAIR-enabling materials (e.g. for training) and resources;
  • to allow the formalisation of job descriptions and CVs with recognised competencies.

The completed terminology will be of use to trainers who teach FAIR data skills, researchers who want to identify skills gaps in their teams and middle and senior managers who wish to recruit individuals to relevant roles.

During the workshop we defined the methodology we will use to build this terminology, and reviewed the use cases (how this terminology will be used in practice), which had been determined via a survey. The use cases will ultimately drive the decision on the type of formal representation we will iteratively build (i.e. a controlled vocabulary, a taxonomy, a thesaurus or an ontology). We started the process by reviewing descriptions of FAIR skills provided by FAIR4S, including their derived ‘compound terms’ and definitions, as well as the related terms and started the process of building simpler terms (referred to as ‘atomic terms’) from this.

What next?

We will work in groups, collaborating online, to continue to add terms, decompose them into atomic terms, refine and provide term definitions. A coordination group will work to clean up and harmonize the list of terms for consistency. We plan to hold a second workshop in September-November 2019 and - informed by the use cases and competency questions - we will start to identify and build the necessary formal representation. Before that workshop, we intend to release some basic documentation about the work and the draft list of terms and definitions.

How to get involved

We welcome additional collaborators in this activity. If you would like to become involved with this project or would like some clarification, please contact the Organizers at terms4FAIRskills@codata.orgspecifying your name, institutional affiliation and the ways in which you would like to contribute.

Who is involved in #terms4FAIRskills?

A committee of representatives* from CODATA, the DCC, DTL/ELIXIR-NL, FAIRsharing and Royal Holloway organised the 1st workshop which brought together a number of experts in FAIR data, data skills training and Knowledge Engineering, from projects and organisations from across Europe.

Workshop announcement:

CODATA activities to coordinate development of data science and data stewardship curricula: 





Asha Law | Program Assistant, CODATA |


Tel (Office): +33 1 45 25 04 96

CODATA (Committee on Data of the International Council for Science), 5 rue Auguste Vacquerie, 75016 Paris, FRANCE