A Semi-Automated Workflow for FAIR Maturity Indicators in the Life Sciences

Ammar Ammar, Serena Bonaretti, Laurent Winckers, Joris Quik, Martine Bakker, Dieter Maier, Iseult Lynch, Jeaphianne van Rijn, Egon Willighagen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Data sharing and reuse are crucial to enhance scientific progress and maximize return of investments in science. Although attitudes are increasingly favorable, data reuse remains difficult due to lack of infrastructures, standards, and policies. The FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles aim to provide recommendations to increase data reuse. Because of the broad interpretation of the FAIR principles, maturity indicators are necessary to determine the FAIRness of a dataset. In this work, we propose a reproducible computational workflow to assess data FAIRness in the life sciences. Our implementation follows principles and guidelines recommended by the maturity indicator authoring group and integrates concepts from the literature. In addition, we propose a FAIR balloon plot to summarize and compare dataset FAIRness. We evaluated the feasibility of our method on three real use cases where researchers looked for six datasets to answer their scientific questions. We retrieved information from repositories (ArrayExpress, Gene Expression Omnibus, eNanoMapper, caNanoLab, NanoCommons and ChEMBL), a registry of repositories, and a searchable resource (Google Dataset Search) via application program interfaces (API) wherever possible. With our analysis, we found that the six datasets met the majority of the criteria defined by the maturity indicators, and we showed areas where improvements can easily be reached. We suggest that use of standard schema for metadata and the presence of specific attributes in registries of repositories could increase FAIRness of datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2068
Number of pages14
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • FAIR guidelines
  • FAIR maturity indicators
  • life sciences
  • Jupyter Notebook

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