The FAIR-principles

The EU and Horizon 2020 state that research data must meet the so-called FAIR principles. Also major initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) connect to FAIR.

The Swedish Research Council has published these principles in a Swedish report "Criteria for FAIR research data" (in Swedish with English in summary). Indirectly this means that the FAIR principles must also be taken into consideration when handling your data and also your data management plan.

The concept FAIR stands for data to be

  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Interoperable
  • Reusable

Research data need not necessarily be in digital form, initially, such as handwritten historical documents, but in order to be made available effectively and made FAIR, research data must be in digital form.

The FAIR research data principles play an important role in the Open Science objectives.

The European Council adopted in 2016 that Open Science and re-use of research data as an important priority. The EU Commission has set an objective in its Open Science agenda to make FAIR data management the norm for all EU-funded research by 2020.

The purpose of seeking 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, not to fulfill assessment criteria. Criteria for FAIR should be used as support and target image rather than as an instrument for assessment, evaluation or supervision, which could have undesirable steering effects.

The FAIR criterions described

A more detailed description and detailed guidance on the respective FAIR criterion below can be found in the report Criteria for FAIR research data. On p.56 there is also a summary table in both Swedish and English.


F1. (Meta)data are assigned a globally unique and persistent identifier
F2. Data are described with rich metadata
F3. Metadata clearly and explicitly include the identifier of the data it describes
F4. (Meta)data are registered or indexed in a searchable resource


A1. (Meta)data are retrievable by their identifier using a standardized communications protocol
A1.1. The protocol is open, free, and universally implementable
A1.2. The protocol allows for an authentication and authorization procedure, where necessary
A2. Metadata are accessible, even when the data are no longer available


I1. (Meta)data use a formal, accessible, shared, and broadly applicable language for knowledge representation
I2. (Meta)data use vocabularies that follow FAIR principles
I3. (Meta)data include qualified references to other (meta)data


R1. (Meta)data are richly described with a plurality of accurate and relevant attributes
R1.1. (Meta)data are released with clear and accessible data usage


R.1.2. (Meta)data are associated with detailed provenance
R1.3. (Meta)data meet domain-relevant community standards

The FAIR principles and scientific publications

The Swedish Royal Library was commissioned by the Swedish government to develop criteria to be able to assess the extent to which scientific publications that were produced in whole or in part with public funding to 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. The Royal Library shall, on the basis of the assessment criteria that are produced, also 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. The assignment was reported in February 2019. In 2018, the blog post Swepub: FAIR enough? was published.

Read more about FAIR principles regarding publications

Reports and guidelines

FAIR Toolkit from Pistoia Alliance with examples

EUDAT checklist for FAIR assessment

Kriterier för FAIR forskningsdata: Reporting of government assignments to develop assessment criteria for following the path towards an open science system (summary in English)

Vetenskapliga publikationer och FAIR-principerna – Assessment criteria and method for following developments towards an open science system (summary in English)

Turning FAIR into reality: Final report and action plan from the European Commission expert group on FAIR data

Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020

The FAIR data principles

The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship .

A FAIRy tale book

Organisations and infrastructures

Organisations, infrastructures, initiatives and projects that develop and / or support the FAIR principles:

Fair Data Expert Group, EU

European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) an EU infrastructure development where research data and metadata are to be made FAIR and machine readable.

Nordic E-infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC)

GO FAIR initiative - GO (Go Open) FAIR is a bottom up initiative that works to promote the implementation of the FAIR principles and the practical implementation of the EOSC. The initiative was started in 2017 by the Netherlands and Germany.

FORCE11 - The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship

FAIR Metric Group

SUHF:s nationella arbetsgrupp för forskningsdata


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) leads the four-year (2017-2020) pilot project NIH Data Commons to investigate the best way to provide access to open research data in accordance with the FAIR principles. The project includes BD2K (Big Data 2 Knowledge), an initiative that spans all NIH institutes and will test the possibilities of making digital objects available through a cloud-based collaboration platform and thus give more researchers access to biomedical data.

Contact Research Data Office

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

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