Top 10 FAIR Data & Software Things

International Relations


Fiona Bradley, UNSW Library, and University of Western Australia (PhD Candidate)


International Relations researchers increasingly make use of and create their own datasets in the course of research, or as part of broader research projects. The funding landscape in the discipline is mixed, with some receiving significant grants subject to Open Access and Open Data compliance while others are not funded for specific outputs. Datasets have many sources, they may be derived from academic research, or increasingly, make use of large-N datasets produced by polling organisations such as YouGov, Gallup, third-party datasets produced by non-governmental organisations or NGOs that undertake human rights monitoring, or official government data. There is a wide range of licensing arrangements in place, and many different places to store this data.

What is FAIR data?

FAIR data is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. For more information, take a look at the Force 11 definition.


International relations and human rights researchers


Help researchers understand FAIR principles


Thing 1: Getting started

Is there a difference between open and FAIR data? Find out more:

Are there examples in your own research where you have used or created data that may be FAIR, but may not necessarily be open?

Thing 2: Discovering data

United Nations (UN) agencies, international organisations, governments, NGOs, and researchers all produce and share data. Some data are very easy to use - they are well-described, and a comprehensive code book may be supplied. Other data may need significant clean up especially if definitions or country borders have changed over time, as they will in longitudinal datasets. A selection of the types of datasets available are linked below:

Thing 3: Data identifiers

A unique, permanent link helps make it easy to identify and find data. A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a widely used identifier, but not the only one available. If you are contributing a dataset to an institutional repository or discipline repository, these services may ‘mint’ a DOI for you to attach to your dataset.

Zenodo is an example of an open repository that will provide a DOI for your dataset. The AJPS Dataverse and UK Data Service, linked in Thing 2, both use DOIs to identify datasets.

Thing 4: Data citation

Using someone else’s dataset? Or want to make sure you are credited for use of data? The Make Data Count initiative and DataCite are developing guidelines to ensure that data citations are measured and credited to authors, in the same way as other research outputs.

Currently many researchers, NGOs, and organisations contribute data to the UN system or at national level to show progress on the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development goals. There are several initiatives aimed at strengthening national data including national statistical office capacity, disaggregated data, third-party data sources, and scientific evidence.

Thing 5: Data licensing

Depending on your funder, publisher, or purpose of your dataset, you may have a range of data licensing compliance requirements, or options. Creative Commons is one licensing option. The Australian Research Data Commons (formerly known as the Australian National Data Service) provides a guide with workflows for understanding how to licence your data in Australia.

When might a Creative Commons licence not be appropriate for your data? For example:

Thing 6: Sensitive data

Human rights researchers, scholars studying regime change in fragile and conflict states, and interviews with security officials are among the cases where data may need to be handled carefully, and be sensitive. In these cases, procedures utilised in collecting the data must remain secure, and the data may be FAIR, but not open, or require specific access protocols and mediated access. See:

Thing 7: Data publishing

Data sharing policies in political science and international relations journals vary widely. See:


Thing 8: Funder requirements

Funder requirements vary. Gary King has compiled the policies of most major social science funders (and journals, see Thing 7).

Thing 9: Data sharing

Your funder or publisher may set requirements for data sharing, either as ‘supplementary data’, or in a data repository. But, what if you aren’t funded, and aren’t required to provide supplementary data or comply with data publishing conditions? Make it a habit and practice to prepare and release your datasets as FAIR data when appropriate. Choose a repository, claim an identifier (Thing 3), and licence it appropriately (Thing 5). Add links to your homepage and ORCID profile. See:

Thing 10: Learn more

The Carpentries provide training and workshops on fundamental data skills for research.