FAIR principles for research software

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27 Nov 2019
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

Software has become essential for research. To improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reuse of the software used, it is desirable to apply the FAIR Guiding Principles. Many of the FAIR principles can be directly applied to research software, where software and data can be treated as the same kind of digital research objects. However, specific characteristics of software - such as their executability, composite nature, and continuous evolution and versioning - make it necessary to revise and extend the original principles.


This session continues community-led discussions (at RDA, FORCE11 and ELIXIR) on how to effectively apply FAIR principles to research software. The goal of this session is to assess the interest across the community on the topic of adapting and defining FAIR principles for research software with the aim of defining the scope, outputs and leadership of a new working group to take forward development of the principles.


The objectives of the meeting are:

  1. Provide updates on community efforts around FAIR principles for research software, including:

  2. Engage the wider community in the importance of adapting or reinterpreting the FAIR principles for research software.

  3. Clarify the scope of the FAIR principles in relation to different forms of software at different granularity levels (e.g. notebooks, libraries, applications, services).

  4. Discuss the formation of a new Working Group, including scope, outputs, membership and leadership, to take forward the adaptation and definition of FAIR principles for research software, including: 

    • Plan the process for coming to consensus on the FAIR principles for research software.

    • Identify if the definition of metrics to automatically measure software FAIRness is in scope for this WG or should become a separate WG.

Meeting agenda: 
  1. Introduction (30 minutes)

    1. What makes software different from data with respect to the application of the FAIR principles? (5 minutes)

    2. Raising awareness of the work done so far on FAIR for software. (5 minutes)

    3. Overview of related projects including CodeMeta, software identification and citation, FAIR maturity model. (5 minutes)

    4. What can be measured and what cannot be measured. Overcoming the tyranny of metrics for software. (5 minutes)

    5. Q&A session on FAIR and software (10 minutes)

  2. Parallel discussion groups of technical issues relating to FAIR for research software (30 minutes)

    • What controlled vocabularies are currently available to describe software and its associated metadata?

    • Software versioning and how to handle releases? A discussion about software provenance. 

    • What aspects should be taken into account in order to create indicators to measure FAIRness in software? How can automatic measurement be used to guarantee sustainability?

  3. Outputs and impact (30 minutes)

    1. Discussion and feedback on proposed WG (10 minutes)

    2. Initial draft of new working group aims (15 minutes)

    3. Wrap-up and next steps (5 minutes)

The group session will be recorded using online collaborative meeting notes and welcomes remote participation.

Target Audience: 

The target audience for this session comprises: repository managers, software project owners, research software engineers, software developers who publish their software, software catalog maintainers, software preservation and archival experts, and others with an interest in the FAIR principles or research software.


Members of related groups are very welcome to participate in this working meeting: Software Source Code IG, Software Source Code Identification WG, Research Metadata Schemas WG, Data Discovery Paradigms IG, Early Career and Engagement IG. 


Participants should read the paper “Towards FAIR principles for research software” in preparation for this session. They may also wish to read the other informative material referenced below and familiarise themselves with current efforts in publishing and preserving source code (such as Software Heritage or Zenodo), describing software (e.g. CodeMeta) and citing software (the FORCE11 Software Citation Principles).

Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

This session is co-organised by the Software Source Code IG and the authors of "Towards FAIR principles for research software" (https://doi.org/10.3233/DS-190026) [whose members overlap] in an effort to engage the wider community in understanding the importance of adapting or reinterpreting the FAIR principles for research software, and to start a discussion about a new working group to take forward the development of FAIR principles for research software.


Liaison has been established with relevant RDA groups: this proposal has been discussed with members of the RDA community (listed below) to ensure that the objectives fit the RDA’s mission and principles and the session is sufficiently distinct from the work of existing groups or BoFs held at recent plenaries.


Software Source Code IG with chairs: Roberto Di Cosmo, Neil Chue Hong, Mingfang Wu, Julia Collins. This IG has been a pioneer in addressing FAIR for Software Source Code by holding participatory discussions at P13 which were then used for the paper “Towards FAIR Principles for Research Software”. Holding the meeting on FAIR for research software as the Software Source Code Interest Group session at P15 will leverage the existing IG audience and provide the space/time and visibility that is needed, facilitate acceptance, and bring together a larger community.


Software Source Code Identification WG with Chairs:  Roberto Di Cosmo, Martin Fenner, Daniel S. Katz. Recommendations related to scholarly publication and archiving of software, not only in the academic world, but importantly in industry. 


Research Metadata Schemas WG with chairs Mingfang Wu, Sarala Wimalaratne, Adam Shepherd, Leyla Garcia. Working on different schemas that describe scientific types, one of those being software.


Data Discovery Paradigms IG with chairs: Siri Jodha Khalsa, Mingfang Wu, Fotis Psomopoulos. This IG has been focusing towards increasing the Findability of digital objects - including a recent Task Force that investigate the impact of Granularity in description and citation of resources.


Early Career and Engagement IG with chairs: Devan Ray Donaldson, Fotis Psomopoulos, Elli Papadopoulou, Mervyn O Luing. This IG is providing a mentoring programme for ECRs, holding monthly webinars on a wide range of relevant topics, including FAIR principles and Software Citation among others.


Curating for FAIR and reproducible data and code BoF at P14: this BoF was organised by the CURE project and chaired by Florio Arguillas and Thu-Mai Christian, and attended by several of the co-organisers of this session. This BoF focussed on curation of data and code for reproducibility, in particular looking at how to go beyond FAIR to encompass reproducibility. The chairs intent is to create a new group or continue the work of the Reproducibility IG formed in Denver P8, to address the difficulty in preserving and curating data and software to enable reproducibility. 


In addition ARDC, CLARIAH, CODATA, DANS, ELIXIR, EOSC FAIR WG, FAIRsFAIR, FAIRsharing, GO-FAIR, NLeSC, ReSA and SSI are organisations and initiatives that are leading the way to implement FAIR principles for research software and members of those have been collaborating with this initiative.

Short Group Status: 

The Software Source Code IG was founded in 2017, after a BoF session at the 9th RDA Plenary. It aims to discuss issues on:

  • Management, sharing, discovery, archival and provenance of software source code.
  • Review and revise metadata for describing and discovering source code 
  • Develop guidelines for managing, describing and publishing software source code
  • Collect and publish use cases of current examples and practices, and contribute software related expertise to other groups in the RDA which have a software aspect. 


The SSC IG has held sessions at P10, P11, and P13 and has led to the spin-out of the Software Source Code Identification WG.


The SSC IG has been a key driver in addressing FAIR for Software Source Code by holding participatory discussions which were pivotal for the paper “Towards FAIR Principles for Research Software”.  


This session not only emerged from the Software Source Code IG, but also includes previous work from community groups such as the RDA/FORCE11 Software Source Code Identification WG, RDA Research Metadata Schemas, FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation WG and the Research Software Alliance (ReSA). Their respective goals are to produce an initial collection of software identification use cases and corresponding schemas as well as to give an overview of the different contexts in which software artifact identification is relevant. The chairs of these groups have agreed to work together to establish a new joint RDA/FORCE11/ReSA working group on FAIR for research software. 


The proposal for this session has been coordinated by Paula Martinez Villegas and Neil Chue Hong, with input from the co-authors of the “Towards FAIR principles for research software” and the community groups mentioned above.

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
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