University Libraries Data Management Consultant and Curation Services Coordinator Jonathan Petters gathered with international experts in Gaborone, Botswana to discuss a process to ensure that research data is findable, accessible, and reusable.

“Ensuring that all data is findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) is important to enable new research and discovery and to allow for more thorough understanding of research results,” said Petters.

Petters serves as co-chair for the World Data Systems/Research Data Alliance (WDS/RDA) working group on Assessment of Data Fitness for Use. He and fellow co-chair Marina Soares e Silva, product manager for Elsevier Research Data Management, presented on the working group’s progress toward an assessment process to evaluate research data set quality within a data repository, such as Virginia Tech’s VTechData.

“The working group created a new approach to evaluate data sets for reusability. We presented the approach during International Data Week and received a lot of good feedback,” said Petters. “We are now incorporating that feedback and creating a pathway to assess data sets.”

Petters said the group recognizes that their discussion is part of a larger discussion about how to make data sets more accessible and usable to all those who use data. The group’s charge said the assessment should be “multifaceted and cover various aspects related to data objects, access services, and data management processes, such as the level of annotation, curation, peer review, and citability or machine readability of datasets.”

According to Petters, his group is just one of the many international efforts trying to meet the challenge of creating a process to assess research data to evaluate its future usability.

“Academics usually don’t talk about easy problems, we talk about how to solve hard problems. There are many data scientists across the world trying to come up with ways to meet the challenge of ensuring that all research data is findable, accessible, and reusable,” said Petters. “We are adding our voice to the discussion because we need to find a way to make this happen — for the benefit of future discovery.”