EarthCube FAIR Initiative

The FAIR Principles for Geoscience Data and Code


The EarthCube Office (ECO) is working to develop community capacity around the production of FAIR data and the implementation of FAIR principles for other research objects such as scientific software. The FAIR Principles are guidelines for improving the value of research data (and code) by making it more “Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.” Building on the EC Leadership Council’s work to promote the FAIR Data and Resources for the Geoscience Community, we are developing tutorials and informational briefings to help the community improve the FAIRness of EarthCube-related data, tools, and services.

What is FAIR?


The FAIR Guiding Principles (Wilkinson et al, 2016) provide a frame for considering the state of human and machine readability of a dataset or resource, and the related metadata.


The FAIR Principles identify practices that reach across the data lifecycle, and include possible actions for researchers, data managers and stewards, as well as repositories of all types, to make data (or related) objects and resources *more* FAIR. That is, when assessing a data object or resource through this frame, the Principles should be considered on a continuum, that is a means toward full Findability – Accessibility – Interoperability – Reusability.


There are several key aspects that are core to FAIR operations:

  • Findability requires unique, persistent identifiers, and these are registered or indexed to support search.

    • Data are described with rich metadata (Note that specific standards are not defined in the Principles; selection choices are left up to designated communities or domains to meet its particular needs.)

  • Accessibility requires services that utilize Persistent Identifiers for retrieval, and that support authentication,  authorization, and controls for data usage license restrictions when needed. Service providers can also indicate the extent to which their underlying protocols are open and universally implementable.

    • The Principles specifically state that Metadata Records should persist, even if the data they describe are no longer available. (This provides continuity and persistence of the scientific record.)

  • Interoperability requires the application of formal and accessible knowledge representation tools; those tools (such as standard vocabularies or ontologies) should also follow the FAIR principles

  • Re-usability calls for the use of clear and accessible data usage licenses; and, that metadata include information on source and changes (provenance)


What FAIR is not: The FAIR Principles are silent on “open science” or “open data,” as well as on data quality. It should be noted that data that are compliant with the FAIR Principles and found to be FAIR can also be of poor quality, biased, or falsified. The FAIR community acknowledges that data may be “open as possible, as closed as necessary.” Data may be private, confidential, or proprietary, and under the FAIR Principles this is OK – especially when the aim is for metadata to be complete, fully available, and machine readable. Finally, successful application of the FAIR data principles is not, as yet, easily measured, though many tools are in development.

FAIR for EarthCube


FAIR-related materials created for the community by the EarthCube Office will be added here first!

Image by Annie Spratt







Increasing the Visibility of Your Work with Research Organization IDs and

Award Numbers

Identifiers: Persistent, Resolvable Identifiers 

  • Provide accurate information that resolves to the current online location of digital objects and/or their metadata (descriptions)

  • Link digital objects with their authors and other entities in databases, information systems, and knowledge graphs (for credit!)

  • Can be assigned to people, organizations, publications, datasets, models, code, standards, and more

Research Organization IDs: Research Organization Registry - ROR

  • One of several ID services for organizations

  • Community-led focus (“open, sustainable, usable, and unique”)

  • Formalizes affiliations 

    • Describes the relationship between a researcher and an organization (e.g. employer, educational institution, funder, or scholarly society)

  • A ROR ID is a URL that resolves to a metadata record with descriptors for the organization

Funding Award Numbers as Identifiers

  • Identifiers for grants and other awards

    • Grant or contract numbers are generally unique

    • Should be included in the metadata for research  products (e.g., papers, data, project web pages)

  • Why include for funders, projects, products?

    • Generally required to acknowledge funder and award in papers and other products

    • Facilitates relationship linkages (for future funding and collaboration prospects!)

FAIRifying your scholarly communication record

In Summary:

  • Identifiers that link organizations and funding awards make your research data more accessible and  increase citations for your work.

  • What is the value for you?

    • Improve visibility of your work -- Credit!

    • Increase opportunities for reuse of your research products

Stay tuned for more on FAIR!


For questions or topic suggestions, please contact the EarthCube Office at: