The FAIRsFAIR certification support programme

5 October 2020

FAIRsFAIR supports ten selected repositories obtaining the CoreTrustSeal Certification.

In FAIRsFAIR Work Package 4, concerning FAIR Certification, ten selected repositories receive funding and support to obtain their CoreTrustSeal Certification. In exchange, they help us with connecting the CoreTrustSeal Requirements to the FAIR principles. Ultimately, the goal is to have FAIR-enabling Trusted Digital Repositories (TDRs). Let’s have a look at the process: how does FAIRsFAIR support the ten repositories that are involved in their journey towards trust and FAIR?

The support programme can roughly be split up in four time phases:

1)    September 2019 – April 2020

2)    May 2020 – September 2020

3)    October 2020 – February 2021

4)    February 2021 – May 2021 (depending on whether or not the repositories obtain the CoreTrustSeal)

To help the repositories through these phases, these are the FAIRsFAIR project partners that are involved in Task 4.3: DANS (Ilona von Stein, Mustapha Mokrane, Linas Cepinkas, and Frans Huigen), UKDA (Hervé L’Hours), UniHB/PANGAEA (Michael Diepenbroek, Tina Dohna, and Anusuriya Devaraju), DCC (Kevin Ashley and Patricia Herterich) and CINES (Olivier Rouchon)

In the beginning, the repositories and the FAIRsFAIR project partners got to know each other through a workshop that was organised in February 2020. You can find more information on that workshop here, with reference to the training material as well. Next to the workshop, the repositories commented on the CoreTrustSeal+FAIR overview to improve the mapping between FAIR and CoreTrustSeal requirements. Through this first certification support workshop, FAIRsFAIR provided support and capacity building including materials, training, and advice for repository managers to improve their knowledge of activities related to the preparations for CoreTrustSeal self-assessments.

Because that’s what the repositories have done in the second phase: from May – September 2020, they started answering the CoreTrustSeal requirement questions through a draft self-assessment. For this, they used the extended guidance as a template and filled as much information as possible. As if they were filling the ‘real’ application, but this time, their draft self-assessments will be test-reviewed by FAIRsFAIR consortium members in Task 4.3 – support for FAIR Certification.

And that’s where we are now, phase 3: all ten repositories successfully delivered their first drafts, and their drafts have been reviewed by five teams of two reviewers each. In the months of August and September 2020, they did a test-peer-review of the submitted work. In doing so, repositories get valuable feedback on their self-assessments, both through a Review Form and through annotated Google Documents. They can work on improvements in requirements, documentation, and evidence provision. Repositories learn and improve, and the FAIRsFAIR consortium improves their support and CoreTrustSeal+FAIR mapping. This test-peer-review process is beneficial for both parties involved.

At the beginning of October, all ten repositories are getting an opportunity to have a 1-on-1-support call with the reviewer teams. These calls are planned and organised by Frans Huigen of DANS: “It’s quite tricky actually, I have to make sure that every repository gets the opportunity to exchange ideas on improvements, with their reviewer teams. I’ve used the entire month of October to plan ten calls, each for at least three people. As each reviewer team handles two repositories, I needed to make sure that there was no overlap in timeslots. I like administering this and make sure it’s all under control – I’m satisfied because that seems to be the case.”

After the 1-on-1-calls, FAIRsFAIR will organise an online workshop, in which the general points for improvement will be addressed. The repositories can learn and improve not only through the test-peer-reviews, but from each other as well. FAIRsFAIR facilitates collaborative working on a shared Google Drive directory, containing everyone’s work and documentation. Also, the repositories can use the FAIRsFAIR Certification Forum, a Google Group where repositories and FAIRsFAIR reviewers can exchange questions and ideas.

In the approach of the final phase of this support programme, the repositories will use the feedback they gathered to improve their self-assessments. Eventually, in February 2021, they will submit their self-assessments to the CoreTrustSeal website themselves, without FAIRsFAIR involvement. Their final self-assessments will then be reviewed following the usual CoreTrustSeal certification review, but always with the help of the FAIRsFAIR project at their disposal. A broader audience can learn from the experience through deliverables that will be produced in 2021.

More information

If you wish to receive more information about the process, please contact Ilona von Stein (Work Package Leader FAIRsFAIR WP4) or Frans Huigen (Repository Engagement Coordinator FAIRsFAIR WP4).

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