5.3 Supporting FAIR within your designated communities

While Section 5.2 addressed ways that organisations can enable FAIR internally, this section focuses on the role of a data archive in educating their designated communities on FAIR principles. There is not one approach that fits every archive, but rather you should determine what makes sense for your archive and your designated community. We will introduce the different perspectives as well as give some examples from CESSDA Service Providers.


5.3.1 Promoting and embedding FAIR 

Archives are service providers and it is up to each archive how much external education and training they want (or are able) to provide to their designated community. This can include promoting the FAIR principles to users, achieved with guides, training, tools, or news bulletins. An archive can also decide to focus on embedding the necessary elements related to FAIR principles within their organisation. 

For example on promoting FAIR, The Dutch Service Provider DANS links to their Preservation Plan that is provided to users before and during the process of depositing data. In section 10, the Preservation Plan clearly references FAIR Principles and the various workflows and services that the repository provides to users to achieve this. 

Archives that focus on embedding information about the implementation of the FAIR principles to users often do so to make the process as seamless as possible. Users will be prompted to provide metadata, use controlled vocabularies, and choose licences, but the relationship with FAIR is not made explicit. This can be seen, for example, in the Social Sciences and Digital Humanities Archive (SODHA) of Belgium, where their user guide focuses more on the steps necessary for depositing data - FAIR comes into play throughout the guide, but the term isn’t mentioned explicitly.


5.3.2 Examples within the CESSDA community

Below are a selection of examples of different materials on FAIR that CESSDA Service Providers offer to their designated community.

Providing designated community with essentials like FAQs or guides

Guides that are produced and maintained by an archive, such as the SODHA guide, are the most specific to their designated community. This sampling gives an overview of the different ways that Service Providers maintain and present their own guides and services, including a tool that we’ve previously mentioned, FAIR-Aware.

  • Austrian Social Science Data Archive (AUSSDA): maintains an FAQ on data reuse 

  • Swedish National Data Service (SND): maintains a section of their website about FAIR Data Principles, providing a basic overview so that users can choose to read it while preparing deposits 

  • Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS): provides RDM and Open/FAIR data trainings and consultations for researchers 

  • Data Archiving & Networked Services (DANS): hosts and maintains the FAIR-Aware tool, aimed at assessing the user’s knowledge on the FAIR principles with a dataset from the user in mind.


Linking to external guides 

If your archive doesn’t immediately have the resources or the desire to create their own guides for users related to FAIR principles, that is no problem, as there are a number of existing guides that can be used. In addition to this guide, CESSDA also creates and maintains the Data Management Expert Guide (DMEG), which is aimed at social scientists and archive users.

And while the DMEG is an invaluable resource, it’s understandable that archives want to provide information in the language most likely to be used by their users, or to coordinate with other national organisations. This is where linking to external guides can be extremely beneficial, saving time and resources. For instance, the Danish National Archive (DNA) links to courses on research data management from the national organisation Danish e-infrastructure Cooperation (DeiC).


Host or participate in events 

If your organisation has established webinars or events, these are perfect opportunities to invite external FAIR experts or apply your own knowledge to promote it to your designated community. If you cannot host an event yourself, there are likely opportunities to participate in similar series and promote them to your designated community as well (such as those from CESSDA).

Here are some examples of events or participation in events by CESSDA Service Providers related to FAIR principles:

  • Hosting events: The SND (Sweden) hosts regular Q&A sessions related to data management, FAIR practices, and open access. The field of academic focus rotates between each Q&A session, so users can ask direct questions to SND domain specialists and research data advisors, who in turn get to know users within their designated community.

  • Participating in larger events: In November 2020, DANS (Netherlands) participated in a national event aimed at PhDs and Postdocs, hosted by the Dutch Academy for Arts & Sciences (KNAW), to discuss Open and FAIR research data. DANS then hosted the video of the talk on their own YouTube and website and shared it widely with their designated community. 

  • Sharing external events: In September 2021, the TRIPLE Project hosted a webinar on FAIR data in Social Science & Humanities. The Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSDA), along with other Service Providers, shared the event details with their designated community.

Events that cover FAIR and Open Science are a good opportunity to introduce these principles to your designated community as part of your community outreach. Many European countries have a National Open Access Desk (NOAD), which supports Open and FAIR research output through for instance national events. Find out more about your NOAD contact.


Communication directly with designated users

News updates, blog posts, and newsletters can be a useful and low-threshold method of communicating directly with your designated community, such as by sharing internal FAIR initiatives or linking to (external) information on FAIR practices. For example, we already discussed how the FSD used the Fair Maturity Evaluation assessment tool - this use was also communicated with their community widely through a news post.


Increase your understanding

Find out more about your archive

We’ve discussed the ways that archives can promote or embed FAIR - investigate what the situation is at your archive: 

  • Go through the user-facing side of your archive’s website - are there things like guides for users, or FAQs, what is there to explain elements of FAIR to users? 

  • Are there any events or annual offerings related to FAIR or that could benefit from FAIR being brought forward? Is there space to put on an event about FAIR at the archive or in your country with help from CESSDA Events, other CESSDA Service Providers, or the National Open Access Desks from OpenAIRE?

  • How about the news section, or a monthly newsletter, or a Twitter feed, where FAIR principles of the archive can be covered regularly?


Expert tips

In addition to the tools we have discussed here, you can head to FAIRassist.org and scroll through some more of the FAIR tools and resources available - maybe there is something that we haven’t covered here that looks promising to promote to your users?