How should VREs enable FAIR - and what are the challenges?

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27 Feb 2022
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

The FAIR for Virtual Research Environments (FAIR4VREs) WG (under the umbrella of the Virtual Research Environments IG) is undertaking an analysis of gaps in applying existing FAIR principles to VREs, and wishes to gain feedback from VRE users and developers. 

The working group has identified commonalities and differences in the application of FAIR to VREs based on a preliminary analysis of existing high-level principles as applied to data and software. The issues that need to be addressed in defining FAIR for VREs have been outlined, and these are the key questions around which we wish to engage the community at the Plenary.  

The working group also wishes to crowdsource case studies on how VREs contribute to FAIRness of other digital objects and examples of guidance materials.

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative session notes:


0-10 min: Presentation of the draft analysis of gaps in applying existing FAIR principles to VREs 

10-50 min: Panel discussion on the challenges of implementing VREs that enable FAIR digital objects 

50-70 min: Open discussion on the draft gap analysis and call for case studies of FAIR and FAIR-enabling VREs, and examples of guidance materials for VRE developers 

70-90 min: Review the timeline of future work packages

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 think about the challenges they face using and/or developing VREs. They could share visions, needs and requirements from their experience.

We would also like to invite members of RDA groups whose interests overlap with this group: FAIR for Research Software (FAIR4RS) WG, CURE FAIR WG, FAIR Data Maturity Model, FAIR data maturity model, Go FAIR IG, Research Funders and Stakeholders on Open Research Data Management Policies and Practices IG, and Global Open Research Commons IG.

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. 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, also called science gateways, research platforms or virtual labs).

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. VREs are increasingly used as the vehicle for collecting or generating digital objects, processing, analysing, annotating and visualising these, then sharing the research outputs. 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. 

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.

Short Group Status: 

The FAIR4VREs WG was endorsed in October 2021, and is working on defining its scope of work (see Work Plan).

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
Kerry Levett, Sandra Gesing, Leyla Jael Castro