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terms4FAIRskills FAIR Data Stewardship Terminology

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The terms4FAIRskills data stewardship terminology is a terminology to describe the skills required to make and keep data FAIR.  The initiative is a collaboration between a wide range of partners and stakeholders.  CODATA is providing administrative support to a working group to maintain progress on the terminology and ensure all stakeholders have a regular forum to discuss, review and improve the terminology.

Visit the project website:

Visit the latest version of the terminology repository:


The EOSC Co-creation fund supported a pilot project to move the terminology forward to proof-of-concept level between September 2020 and February 2021. Our technical report on this work (2021-03-31) is available here:  The following brief overview was prepared by Pete McQuilton and Laura Molloy to summarize this funded period of activity.


The cost of not making your data FAIR has been estimated to be €10.2B per year within the EU alone, but how do you make your data FAIR? What knowledge, skills and aptitudes do you need, or have to learn? There are a wide variety of Good Data Management and FAIR training materials and courses available, but how can you find them, or learn about the skills and expertise you need or will learn from them? We need a terminology to define and link the competencies necessary to make and keep data FAIR, to enable the annotation and aggregation of FAIR training materials and the creation of FAIR curricula.

A community of FAIR researchers, training providers and ontologists assembled to create the terms4FAIRskills initiative ( to address this challenge.  Thanks to an award from the EOSC Co-creation committee, we have delivered a proof-of-concept terminology to describe the skills and competencies necessary to make and keep data FAIR. This terminology supports cross-domain and cross-repository searching for training materials by the skills and competencies they require and confer.


As of the latest release (, the terms4FAIRskills terminology has 552 terms, split across five concepts. Of these, 261 are imported from the CASRAI RDM glossary. The remainder were created via workshops prior to or as part of the EOSC co-creation award.

Through a series of virtual workshops, we iteratively refined the model, terms, their definitions, and relationships. Thanks to contributions from our two use cases – the RDA/CODATA Summer Schools and the ELIXIR Training portal TeSS (, we have been able to build the terminology from just over 250 terms with no relationships between them to the current 552 terms with 3 unidirectional and 8 bidirectional relationships.

We will continue to maintain and develop terms4FAIRskills. We are now exploring using tersm4FAIRskills in the ELIXIR Training Portal and in the EOSC-Life tool ( The latest release, plus our issue tracker, can always be found on our GitHub repository ( alongside the latest news, use cases and community calls on our website (

Thanks to the EOSC Co-creation fund, we have been able to take a number of important steps forward. Firstly, through increased and repeated interaction with the community, we have been able to grow and refine the terminology itself. The terminology now has a greater number of terms, definitions and relationships. More importantly, the terminology model has been refined to better serve the two use cases and to provide richer linked annotation. Terms4FAIRskills has also provided an excellent use case as a pilot for the Semaphora annotation tool, which has benefited from use in the hack sessions and has also provided a suitable environment for increased and more accurate annotation.


Based on our experiences, we offer the following recommendations:

  • Plurality – Development teams should include ontologists and annotators from varied disciplines/sectors appropriate to the use cases, to ensure the terminology does not rely upon discipline/sector-specific assumptions;
  • Communication is key. Teams should provide for sufficient effort for engagement and communication, as – particularly in short-term, agile work – it is critical that community engagement is focused, relevant, quick and responsive;
  • Terminology building projects, such as this one, should include the community at all stages of development both in terms of the annotations but also the competency questions the terminology is designed for. This will reduce the opportunity for scope creep and will ensure both the annotations and the terminology are tightly defined and appropriate for the use cases;
  • Communication is as clear and inclusive as possible. With any community project, it’s important to ensure the aims are clear and agreed among all parties and that a governance system, however basic, is in place. In addition, frequent communication with end users is fundamental;
  • Openness – It’s important that the principles of Open Science are followed in any community project, but particularly in a project where a terminology is being built by one stakeholder for use by others;
  • Best Practice – Work, where possible and available, follows accepted community standards, such as the FAIR semantics and OBO Foundry guidelines as this will ensure best possible practice.


Selected presentations


To find out more

If you would like to find out more or contribute to this initiative, please complete this form or email

Last updated 2021–06–15.