At CarpentryCon 2018, Bérénice Batut and Katrin Leinweber led an engaging breakout session on “Fostering FAIR Data and Sustainable Software Practices”. At that session, we discussed briefly the need for domain-relevant guidance on FAIR. What is FAIR? To use the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility or INCF's description:
"The FAIR principles are a set of community-developed guidelines to ensure that data or any digital object are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. The FAIR principles specifically emphasize enhancing the ability of machines to automatically find and use data or any digital object, and support its reuse by individuals. Standards for the description, interoperability, citation etc. are at the core of these principles."
Later in the summer, it seemed like perfect timing when the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) approached Library Carpentry about hosting a worldwide sprint on developing FAIR material. Library Carpentry had hosted a series of sprints in the past as part of the Mozilla Global Sprint and ARDC had experience with developing material called “10 Things”. We decided to combine the two and give it a go!
The Top 10 FAIR Data & Software Global Sprint was held online over the course of two-days (29-30 November 2018), where participants from around the world were invited to develop brief guides (stand alone, self paced training materials), called "Things", that can be used by the research community to understand FAIR in different contexts but also as starting points for conversations around FAIR.
In addition to the organisers, ARDC and Library Carpentry, we were joined by the Research Data Alliance Libraries for Research Data Interest Group in collaboration with FOSTER Open Science, OpenAire, RDA Europe, Data Management Training Clearinghouse, California Digital Library, Dryad, AARNet, Center for Digital Scholarship at the Leiden University, and DANS. Anyone could join the Sprint and roughly 25 groups/individuals participated from The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, United States, Hungary, Norway, Italy, and Belgium. The Sprinters came from over 20 organisations including The Netherlands eScience Center, University Utrecht, UC San Diego, Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences, EMBL, University of Technology, Sydney, UC Berkeley, University of Western Australia, Leiden University, GO FAIR, DARIAH, Maastricht University, Curtin University, NIH, NLM, NCBI, ZB MED, CSIRO, and UCLA.
Sprinters worked off of a primer that was provided in advance together with an online ARDC webinar introducing FAIR and the Sprint titled, "Ready, Set, Go! Join the Top 10 FAIR Data Things Global Sprint." Groups/individuals developed their Things in Google docs which could be accessed and edited by all participants. The Sprinters also used a Zoom channel provided by ARDC, for online calls and coordination, and a Gitter channel, provided by Library Carpentry, to chat with each other throughout the two-days. In addition, participants used the Twitter hashtag #Top10FAIR to communicate with the broader community, sometimes including images of the day.
Participants greeted each other throughout the Sprint and created an overall welcoming environment. As the Sprint shifted to different timezones, it was a chance for participants to catch up. The Zoom and Gitter channels were a way for many to connect over FAIR but also discuss other topics. A number of participants did not know what to expect from a Library Carpentry/Carpentries-like event but found a welcoming environment where everyone could participate.
The Top 10 FAIR Data & Software Things repository and website hosts the work of the Sprinters and is meant to be an evolving resource. Members of the wider community can submit issues and/or pull requests to the Things to help improve them. In addition, a published version of the Things is available via Zenodo, where you can cite and give credit to the Sprinters, and there are plans to add the material to the Data Management Training Clearinghouse in the coming months.