The FAIR-principles

The FAIR principles play an important role in the work for open science and describe some of the most central guidelines when it comes to how research data, scientific publications, research methods and open learning resources should be easier to understand and reuse.

Illustration of FAIR-principles
Photo: KIB

The FAIR-principles and open access

FAIR is a set of principles and criteria aimed at making different types of research results more accessible and useful.

FAIR is an abbreviation that stands for

  • Findable  
  • Accessible  
  • Interoperable  
  • Reusable  

The FAIR principles were introduced internationally in 2016 with the aim of improving the possibilities for the reuse of research data. Behind the principles was a group with representatives from, among other things, academia, research funders and scientific publishers.

The principles are now also used for several different types of research results, not just for research data. Research results that meet the FAIR principles becomes searchable and reusable for, for example, research, innovations and new services.

The Swedish national guidelines for open science, published in January 2024, particularly highlight the importance of FAIR in several areas of scientific research results. 

FAIR and Karolinska Institutet

Karolinska Institutet has several policies and guidelines that specify how you should work with FAIR as a researcher at KI. Examples of this are Policy for open access to research data (the policy is adopted but not yet published) and Policy for open publication at Karolinska Institute.

Since 2020, a working group for open science has been established which reports to the Committee for Research.

The FAIR principles and research data

Research funders such as the Swedish Research Council, Forte, the EU and Horizon Europe, etc. Indicates that the research data must meet The FAIR principles. Even initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) connect to the FAIR principles.

The FAIR principles for research data play an important role in the goals of open science. The Karolinska Institute's vision 2030 also states that "KI shall actively contribute to open access to research data”. FAIR is also included in KI's Policy for open access to research data (the policy is adopted bur not yet published).

Regardless of whether or not research data can be shared and published openly, it is important that they are handled and described correctly according to FAIR. You therefore need to take the FAIR principles into account when handling your research data and also in your project's data management plan

The term FAIR stands for research data should be

  • Searchable: how can research data be found?
  • Accessible: how to access research data?
  • Compatible/Interoperable: do research data and metadata connect to accepted standards and formats?
  • Reusable: can others reuse the data in the future?

The purpose of pursuing FAIR as a concept should primarily be to promote good data management and increased quality in scientific production and to improve the conditions for new research and innovation. 

  • Start planning for FAIR data management and publication at the very beginning of your research project.
  • Describe, document and manage your data according to the FAIR principles continuously during the course of the research project.
  • When you publish your manuscript, you usually need to obtain a permanent identifier (eg DOI) for your underlying research data as well. This also facilitates the possibility of being able to refer to a specific data set in the manuscript.
  • Is my article linked to its underlying research data via a DOI – eg. in a Data availability statement in the article?
  • Choose a suitable repository where you can make your project's research data available. For example. Karolinska Institutet's KI Data Repository.

If you need to know more about FAIR research data management and research data publishing, you can read more on the Research Data Office web pages, especially Publish and share research data – an overview. Or contact us directly at  

KI Policy för öppen tillgång till forskningsdata (the policy is adopted but not yet published).

The KI manual on Data Management Plans  

Svensk Nationell Datatjänst (SND) The FAIR Data Principles

Vetenskapsrådets rapport Kriterier för FAIR forskningsdata (only in Swedish).

The FAIR principles and scientific publications  

The National Library of Sweden has developed criteria to be able to assess the extent to which scientific publications that have been fully or partially produced with public funding meet the FAIR principles. The criteria must enable an assessment of whether scientific publications meet the national goal of being openly accessible immediately when they are published.

Based on the assessment criteria developed, the National Library must propose a method that should be able to show an overall picture of the extent to which scientific publications and research data meet the FAIR principles

  • Interoperable – Compatible: If ORCID exists, it should be indicated in the publication as well as its metadata in a standardized way.
  • Reusable: License information is specified in the publication and its metadata in a standardized way. 

The FAIR Principles applied when publishing

Vetenskapliga publikationer och FAIR-principerna – Bedömningskriterier och metod för att kunna följa utvecklingen mot ett öppet vetenskapssystem (only in Swedish).

The FAIR principles and research methods

To facilitate machine reuse of research methods, where possible and appropriate, research methods need to be provided with sufficient metadata to meet the FAIR principles. Support for the establishment of standards and common approaches therefore needs to be developed.

That research methods are made available in such a way and with sufficient metadata that the FAIR criteria are met. 

The FAIR principles and infrastructures

There is a particular need to use established standards and solutions to link together the different products of research, which may be scattered in several places. The use of persistent identifiers, usually e.g. a DOI, is crucial for long-term durability in connections between different types of research results, for example research data, publications and research methods.

It is through the development and use of established and robust standards and services that accessibility in accordance with the FAIR principles becomes possible. It also facilitates follow-up and evaluation of open science and thereby contributes to development.

At Karolinska Institutet, a major infrastructure project for making data available is currently underway where an institutional repository is under development: KI Data Repository.

KI Data Repository – publish and share your research data.

The FAIR principles and open learning resources

It is important that open learning resources and their metadata are shared under open licences and as far as possible in line with the FAIR principles, in order to promote dissemination and reuse.

Contact Research Data Office

If you have questions regarding the FAIR-principles, please contact