FAIR Forever? Accountabilities and Responsibilities in the Preservation of Research Data
Digital preservation is a fast-moving and growing community of practice of ubiquitous relevance, but in which capability is unevenly distributed. Within the open science and research data communities, digital preservation has a close alignment to the FAIR principles and is delivered through a complex specialist infrastructure comprising technology, staff and policy. However, capacity erodes quickly, establishing a need for ongoing examination and review to ensure that skills, technology, and policy remain fit for changing purpose. To address this challenge, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) conducted the FAIR Forever study, commissioned by the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Sustainability Working Group and funded by the EOSC Secretariat Project in 2020, to assess the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the preservation of research data across EOSC, and the feasibility of establishing shared approaches, workflows and services that would benefit EOSC stakeholders.
This paper draws from the FAIR Forever study to document and explore its key findings on the identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the preservation of FAIR data in EOSC, and to the preservation of research data more broadly. It begins with background of the study and an overview of the methodology employed, which involved a desk-based assessment of the emerging EOSC vision, interviews with representatives of EOSC stakeholders, and focus groups with digital preservation specialists and data managers in research organizations. It summarizes key findings on the need for clarity on digital preservation in the EOSC vision and for elucidation of roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities to mitigate risks of data loss, reputation, and sustainability. It then outlines the recommendations provided in the final report presented to the EOSC Sustainability Working Group.
To better ensure that research data can be FAIRer for longer, the recommendations of the study are presented with discussion on how they can be extended and applied to various research data stakeholders in and outside of EOSC, and suggest ways to bring together research data curation, management, and preservation communities to better ensure FAIRness now and in the long term.
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