Towards FAIR principles for research software

Tracking #: 606-1586


Responsible editor: 

Paul Groth

Submission Type: 

Position Paper


The FAIR Guiding Principles, published in 2016, aim to improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of digital research objects for both humans and machines. Until now the FAIR principles have been mostly applied to research data. The ideas behind these principles are, however, also directly relevant to research software. Hence there is a distinct need to explore how the FAIR principles can be applied to software. In this work, we aim to summarize the current status of the debate around FAIR and software, as a basis for the development of definite community-agreed principles for FAIR research software in the future. We discuss what makes software different from data with respect to the application of the FAIR principles, present an analysis of where the existing principles can directly be applied to software, where they need to be adapted or reinterpreted, and where the definition of additional principles is required. Furthermore, we discuss desired characteristics of research software that go beyond FAIR.



  • Reviewed

Special issue (if applicable): 

FAIR Data, Systems and Analysis

Data repository URLs: 


Date of Submission: 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Date of Decision: 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Nanopublication URLs:



Solicited Reviews:

1 Comment

Meta-Review by Editor

The reviewers agree that the paper addresses an important area of discussion namely the relationship between research software and the FAIR data principles. The authors should address the reviewers comments in particular with respect to the clarity of writing in some places. It would be also worthwhile calling out some exisiting related work around interoperality and just acknowledging the fundamental computer science notion that software can be treated as data. I think it's clear in this context that there is a fundamental distinction but worth mentioning. I think the last thing to consider is whether you can provide an example of FAIR software? Given that this is a position paper, I think it would be ok to not have it but it would be excellent if this could be provided.

Paul Groth (