Published Versions 2 Vol 2 (1) : 264–275 2020
Towards the Tipping Point for FAIR Implementation
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Abstract & Keywords
Abstract: This article explores the global implementation of the FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific management and data stewardship, which provide that data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. The implementation of these principles is designed to lead to the stewardship of data as FAIR digital objects and the establishment of the Internet of FAIR Data and Services (IFDS). If implementation reaches a tipping point, IFDS has the potential to revolutionize how data is managed by making machine and human readable data discoverable for reuse. Accordingly, this article examines the expansion of the implementation of FAIR Guiding Principles, especially how and in which geographies (locations) and areas (topic domains) implementation is taking place. A literature review of academic articles published between 2016 and 2019 on the use of FAIR Guiding Principles is presented. The investigation also includes an analysis of the domains in the IFDS Implementation Networks (INs). Its uptake has been mainly in the Western hemisphere. The investigation found that implementation of FAIR Guiding Principles has taken firm hold in the domain of bio and natural sciences. To achieve a tipping point for FAIR implementation, is now time to ensure the inclusion of non-European ascendants and of other scientific domains. Apart from equal opportunity and genuine global partnership issues, a permanent European bias poses challenges with regard to the representativeness and validity of data and could limit the potential of IFDS to reach across continental boundaries. The article concludes that, despite efforts to be inclusive, acceptance of the FAIR Guiding Principles and IFDS in different scientific communities is limited and there is a need to act now to prevent dampening of the momentum in the development and implementation of the IFDS. It is further concluded that policy entrepreneurs and the GO FAIR INs may contribute to making the FAIR Guiding Principles more flexible in including different research epistemologies, especially through its GO CHANGE pillar.
Keywords: FAIR Data; Health; Digital Health; mHealth; data-driven science; FAIR Implementation Networks; GO-FAIR
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Article and author information
Cite As
M. van Reisen, M. Stokmans, M. Basajja, A. Ong’ayo, C. Kirkpatrick & B. Mons. Towards the tipping point of FAIR implementation. Data Intelligence 2(2020), 264–275. doi: 10.1162/dint_a_00049
Mirjam van Reisen
M. van Reisen ( gave guidance to the content of this article based on herresearch on the applicability of FAIR, providing feedback to other co-authors, final reviewing and editingof the article.
Mirjam van Reisen is Professor International Relations, Innovation and Care at Tilburg Universityand Professor Computing for Society at Leiden Centre for Data Science, at the University of Leiden.Van Reisen is Research Leader of the Globalization, Accessibility, Innovation and Care (GAIC)network. Van Reisen is the Coordinator of the Go-FAIR Implementation Network Africa. Van Reisenis a member of the Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) and Chair of theDevelopment Assistance Committee (COS). Van Reisen leads the oganisation EEPA in Brussels. Sheis a member of the Board of Philips Foundation and the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.Van Reisen received the Golden Image Award in 2012 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Mia Stokmans
M. Stokmans ( did the data analyses, wrote several paragraphs andgave feedback on other paragraphs.
Mia Stokmans is an Associate Professor at Tilburg University, Tilburg School of Humanities andDigital Sciences. She holds a Master of Science in Economic Psychology as well as ResearchMethods from Tilburg University and a PhD in Consumer Decision Making from Delft Universityof Technology. Stokmans is a member of the Research Network Globalisation, Accessibility,Innovation and Care. Her fields are the role of attitudes and emotions in human decision making,social processes for behavioral change and mixed method approaches to research.
Mariam Basajja
M. Basajja ( carried out the research anddata analysis, reviewed and edited the article.
Mariam Basajja is currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at Leiden University Netherlands.Her topic is on “Designing a FAIR Data Point for Digital Health in Uganda”. Her main focus is onhow data-integration through FAIR data supports overcoming lack of sustainability of Digital HealthSolutions in Uganda. She holds a Master’s degree in Advanced Computing Machine Learning, DataMining and High Performance Computing from University of Bristol, UK. She also has a Bachelor’sdegree in Applied Computer Technology with a concentration of Software Engineering. Mariam isalso a member of the African Women In IT Africa (AfricanWIT) Group whose aim is to acceleratethe progress of the African Women in the field of Information Technology.
Antony Otieno Ong
A. Ong’ayo ( contributed in the writing ofseveral paragraphs with regards to the applicability of FAIR in the African context as well as feedback onother paragraphs.
Antony Otieno Ong’ayo is an academic Researcher at the International Institute of Social Studiesof Erasmus University in The Hague. He holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science, a Masterdegree in Political Science (Politics and development) from the University of Stockholm, respectivelyand a PhD in Humanities (International Development) from Tilburg University. He is an associateresearcher with Globalization, Accessibility, Innovation and Care (GAIC) and member of theImplementation network Go-FAIR Africa. His research interests are in the areas of politics ofdevelopment, migration and development, digital citizenship and governance.
Christine Kirkpatrick
C.R. Kirkpatrick Nakazibwe ( contributed to ideas and examples ofthe article.
Christine Kirkpatrick oversees the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s (SDSC) Research DataServices division, which manages infrastructure, networking, and services for research projects ofregional and national scope. Kirkpatrick is a recognized expert in the implementation of researchcomputing services, with an emphasis on data science workloads, as well as operationalcyberinfrastructure (CI) at scale. Kirkpatrick founded and hosts the US GO FAIR Office at SDSC, isthe Executive Director of the US National Data Service (NDS), and Co-PI and Deputy Director ofthe West Big Data Innovation Hub (WBDIH). She co-chairs the All (Big Data) Hub InfrastructureWorking Group and is co-PI of the Open Storage Network. Kirkpatrick received her master’s degreefrom the Jacobs School of Engineering at University of California San Diego. She serves on theTechnical Advisory Board (TAB) for the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and the external AdvisoryBoards for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Hub and EOSC Nordic.
Barend Mons
B. Mons ( provided critical ideas for the research undertaken for thisarticle and also provided supervision and comments to the article.
Barend Mons is Professor of BioSemantics at the Human Genetics Department of Leiden UniversityMedical Center and founder of the BioSemantics group. He was elected CODATA President in2018. Next to his leading role in the research of the group, Barend plays a leading role in theinternational development of “data stewardship” for biomedical data. For instance, he was headof-node of ELIXIR-NL at the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (until 2015), is Integrator LifeSciences at the Netherlands eScience Center, and board member of the Leiden Center of DataScience. In 2014, Barend initiated the FAIR data initiative and in 2015, he was appointed Chair ofthe European Commission’s High Level Expert Group for the “European Open Science Cloud”,from which he retired by the end of 2016. Presently, Barend is co-leading the GO FAIR initiative,an initiative to kick start dvelopments towards the Internet of FAIR data and services, which willalso contribute to the implementation of components of the European Open Science Cloud. Thefocus of the contribution of the BioSemantics group is on developing an interoperability backbonefor biomedical applications in general and rare disease in particular.
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