FAIR means that your research data, code or software is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable for both humans and machines. It is important to know that FAIR is not a synonym of open: you can have open data that is not FAIR, and FAIR data that is not openly shared.

How to make your data FAIR? Some crucial steps to take to start


1. Deposit your data in a trustworthy repository.

Your data can be easily cited because it gets a persistent identifier (such as a DOI) and your data is better findable because repositories add rich metadata (dataset’s provenance information, context, quality, condition, characteristics, etc.).


  • Use our institutional repository CORA.Research Data Repository (CORA.RDR). (Free for ICAC researchers)
  • Select a multidisciplinary repository like Zenodo.


2. Document your data.

Others (including your future self) will better understand and easier data.


  • Provide a clear and concise description of all relevant details about data collection, processing, and analysis in a README file.
  • Create a data dictionary to provide detailed information about the contents of your databases, such as the names of measured variables, their data types or formats, and text descriptions.
  • These files will help other people in understanding and using the data.


3. Use open well-defined vocabularies.

The description of metadata elements should follow community guidelines that use open, well defined and well-known vocabularies. Also known as a thesaurus, these describe the exact meaning of the concepts and qualities that the data represent.


Choose your keywords from a thesaurus, for example:


4. Use open file formats.

By using open or standardised file formats that are widely used in your community, reusability is increased.

Tip: Take a look of our list of preferred and accepted formats at ICAC.


5. Add a clear license to your data or code.

To permit the widest reuse possible of (meta)data, it should be clear who the (meta)data rights holder is and what licences applies.

In the case of projects funded under public funds, CC BY licenses or CC0 are recommended.

Tip: How do I license my research data?

Useful tools: how FAIR are your data?



For more information and assistance, contact Documentation Centre and Library.


FAIR data and software (Leiden University). https://www.library.universiteitleiden.nl/researchers/data-management/fair-data  

PARTHENOS, Hollander, Hella, Morselli, Francesca, Uiterwaal, Frank, Admiraal, Femmy, Trippel, Thorsten, & Di Giorgio, Sara. (2018). PARTHENOS Guidelines to FAIRify data management and make data reusable. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2668479  

Last updated: 09/05/2023