FAIR for VREs - The Path Forward

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06 Aug 2021
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

This is the first meeting of the FAIR for Virtual Research Environments (FAIR4VREs) WG, which is under the umbrella of the Virtual Research Environments IG

Virtual research environments (VREs), also called science gateways, research platforms or virtual labs, are increasingly used as the vehicle for collecting or generating digital objects, processing, analysing, annotating and visualising these, then sharing the research outputs. VREs are a broad category of digital research infrastructure that consist of a set of online services, often with associated integration and/or orchestration functions and connections to specific data, software, workflow, storage and compute resources. One of the main drivers for creating VREs is to lower or remove the barrier for researchers in accessing datasets, performing complex analyses, and sharing their workflows to encourage reproducibility. 

How infrastructure such as a VRE is developed, and the functions it supports, therefore have a large impact on the FAIRness of digital objects themselves. VREs should enable FAIRness in the digital objects that they create or produce, and at the very least should not make digital objects that they process less FAIR.  

VREs themselves should also be FAIR, in that they should be easily discoverable and accessible; should interoperate with other digital research infrastructures; and their technical architecture, components and services should be reusable to improve development efficiency. 

While some of the high-level FAIR principles as applied to data can be directly applied to VREs, others are not applicable. Likewise, the recently developed FAIR principles for Research Software also do not cover all of the aspects of VREs. The application of the FAIR principles is now also being considered for other areas, including workflows, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and skills and training. As the working group explores the FAIR ecosystem with respect to VREs, the WG will provide another connecting piece in the FAIR toolkit between principles and implementation as they apply to VREs.

The FAIR4VREs WG will enable coordination between existing communities working with VREs, science gateways, platforms and virtual labs, to define what it means for VREs to be and enable FAIR, and provide guidance to VRE developers in achieving this. This WG will encompass activities that are underway through the Science Gateways Community Institute (SGCI, US), the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC, AU), and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC, EU). All three of these organisations are working through the implications of how to apply the FAIR principles to a range of digital objects.  

The WG case statement was submitted to RDA in August 2021.

The objectives of this meeting will be:

  1. Explain the importance of applying FAIR to VREs

  2. Review the timeline of proposed work packages

  3. Determine next steps for outreach and recruitment of members

  4. Outline plan for identifying gaps in existing FAIR work in relation to VREs, and collecting case studies of FAIR and FAIR-enabling VREs

 

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative session notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13j6soyAZY8MTR9bKuX1ZjPnkK57FRFn9lkxsMecKhbw/edit?usp=sharing

 

Time

Description

   

0:00

Welcome, the importance of applying FAIR to VREs and the need for this WG

   

0:15

Relevant previous work: Case study - results of assessment of FAIRness of a particular gateway using

ARDC FAIR data assessment tool and/or FAIRShake tool

   

0:30

The proposed timeline and outline scope of work 

   

0:40

Group activity to refine deliverables and approach 

   

1:20

Identify next steps for WG and how to get involved

   

1:30

Meeting end

 

 

       
Target Audience: 

This session is aimed at anyone who is or has been involved in using, developing or maintaining any form of online collaborative environment or their individual components and is interested in FAIR principles. 

In preparation for this meeting, attendees could refer to the notes from the previous sessions from past RDA Plenary meetings that focused more on understanding the commonalities and differences of the different VRE/SG/VL platforms from the different global regions and collaboration tools of the VRE-IG or of FAIR IGs or WGs. Attendees could think about the challenges they face using and/or developing VREs. They could share visions, needs and requirements from their experience.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

One of the major challenges of data-driven research is to facilitate knowledge discovery by assisting humans and machines in their discovery of, access to, integration and analysis of data and their associated research objects, e.g., algorithms, software, and workflows. To address this, an initial effort to define a "DATA FAIRPORT” began in 2014 at the Lorentz workshop and transitioned into developing a set of ​FAIR Data Guiding Principles in 2016. The FAIR data principles strongly contribute to addressing this challenge with regard to research data. The principles, at a high level, are intended to apply to all research objects; both those used in research and those that form the outputs of research. Here we focus on the adaptation and adoption of the FAIR principles for VREs (Virtual Research Environments).

Digital objects such as data, software and workflows cannot be made FAIR in isolation - digital infrastructure is needed to store, manage, analyse and share the digital objects, and to make them discoverable. 

The FAIR4VREs WG will enable coordination between existing communities working with VREs, science gateways, platforms and virtual labs, to define what it means for VREs to be and enable FAIR, and provide guidance to VRE developers in achieving this.

The working group will:

  1. Investigate how the existing application of the FAIR principles to data, software, workflows, computational notebooks, training materials, AI and machine learning enable VREs to enable FAIR digital objects, and themselves be FAIR, and identify any gaps in the existing work.

  2. Produce guidance on and examples of how VRES can and should be FAIR.

  3. Produce guidance on and examples of how VREs can and should enable FAIRness for other digital objects.

As the working group explores the FAIR ecosystem with respect to VREs, the exact format of the output(s) will be defined. Rather than producing a set of principles specifically for VREs, the output(s) will be another connecting piece in the FAIR toolkit between principles and implementation as they apply to VREs.

 

Short Group Status: 

The case statement has been submitted in August and is under review.

Estimate of the required room capacity (Hybrid plenary): 
70
Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Remote participation availability (only for physical Plenaries): 
Yes
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (3): 
Meeting presenters: 
Kerry Levett, Sandra Gesing, Sean Cleveland, Carol Song, Christine Kirkpatrick