Making your research data FAIR

The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) guiding principles have rapidly become the standard when it comes to proper research data management. Scientific journals, funding agencies, and universities increasingly require that researchers make their research data FAIR. Radboud University is also committed to FAIR research data management: as of January 2021 all research data associated with Radboud University scientific publications must at least be sustainably findable and be archived under proper access management (F&A Directive). FAIR data management can help researchers find, cite and re-use others’ work. Making your data FAIR will increase the visibility and impact of your research. But how do you make your data FAIR, and how can the Radboud Data Repository (RDR) help you accomplish this? We explain how you can use the RDR to make your data as FAIR as possible on this best practice page.


To make (meta)data in the RDR findable, all collections – independent of collection type – are assigned a globally unique and persistent identifier: a DOI.

The RDR offers various metadata fields according to the DublinCore and DataCite standards. To make your collection findable, fill in as many metadata fields as you can. Choose a clear and descriptive title, name all the authors and specify the audience and keywords as well as possible. If applicable, link your data collection to associated publications, data, analysis tools and pre-registrations. More information on how to fill out the metadata fields can be found on our help page on how to adjust metadata and invite colleagues to a collection and the best practice page on data documentation and metadata. The RDR automatically assigns additional metadata to your collection: the DOI, publication date, publisher and version.

Metadata of published DSCs and -optionally- archived DACs and RDCs are published under a CC0 licence. This includes the automatically generated ABOUT.txt, LICENSE.txt and MANIFEST.txt files and the list of files in the Files tab of your collection.

To improve the exposure of RDR data collections, metadata of Data Sharing Collections (DSCs) and optionally Data Acquisition Collections (DACs) and Research Documentation Collections (RDCs) are automatically exported to RIS, which is the current research information system (CRIS) of Radboud University. This makes the collection metadata accessible in the Radboud Repository.

Metadata of published DSCs are also indexed and searchable on Google.


The RDR offers you as a collection manager various options to manage access to your data and metadata. You can invite colleagues to work on or view your collection by assigning other collection managers, contributors or viewers. You can opt to make metadata of archived DACs and RDCs public or chose to keep them internal. Access to published DSCs can be managed by selecting a proper Access level. It is also possible to place an embargo on a collection. More information on how to manage access to your collections can be found in our help page on how to adjust metadata and invite colleagues to a collection.

Data and metadata in the RDR are available via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Data are also accessible via the WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) protocol. Both protocols are open, free and universally implementable. The protocols both allow for an authentication and authorisation procedure.

The RDR never removes data collections' metadata, even if the data are removed. Metadata are therefore retained and accessible for the repository's lifetime.

To keep your data accessible, now and in the future, it is recommendable to use a file format that allows files to be opened with software that is free of charge and universally available. Visit our best practice page on Preferred Formats for more information.


The RDR uses metadata schema standards based on DublinCore and DataCite. This use of standards makes the data collections more interoperable.

Linking data collections to related works or analysis tools makes them more interoperable. Therefore, be sure to fill out the associated publications, data, pre-registrations and analysis tools metadata fields. The RDR ensures that these linked (meta)data refer to a resolvable URL. More information on how to fill out these metadata fields can be found in our help page How to adjust metadata and invite colleagues to a collection.

To further promote data interoperability, it helps to adhere to standards. The RDR offers two standard thesauri for keywords: the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH; and SFN keywords. We recommend that you make use of these thesauri rather than using ‘free text’ keywords. If you would like to use standards that are not supported by the RDR, you can contact us at


To promote reusability of data collections, some metadata fields in the RDR are obligatory. These include title, description, authors, data use agreement, audience and keywords. Other metadata are automatically assigned to your collection by the RDR: the DOI, publication date, publisher and version.

To aid reusability, you should properly describe (in the description metadata field) and document your data collection. Describe the why (for what purpose were the data generated/collected?), how (the date of generation/collection of the data, the lab conditions, who prepared the data, the parameter settings, the name and version of the software used, etc.) and what (any particularities or limitations about the data that other users should be aware of, is it raw or processed data?) of your data collection. Ensure that all variable names are explained or self-explanatory. Please visit our best practice pages on data documentation and metadata and data organisation to find out more.

To promote reusability of data collections, it is important that researchers from the external scientific community know what they can do with your data: how they can access your data, whether they can re-share your dataset, use your dataset for commercial purposes, whether and when they have to cite you and so on. Therefore, you must specify an access level of your DSC and select a licence or DUA. The access level and corresponding DUA or licence are added to the collection's metadata in a machine-readable manner. The licences offered by the RDR are widely used and public (such as CreativeCommons). Visit our best practice page on Selecting an appropriate access level and licence for more information.

The RDR keeps the provenance information of your data collection to aid reusability: each interaction of a user with the data or metadata is stored in the audit trail. The RDR keeps track of: 1) the user that initiated the interaction, 2) the timestamp, 3) the context or action (e.g. open, create, delete, update), and 4) the target object (e.g. data file, metadata attribute) of the action. As a researcher, you can promote reusability by documenting why you performed certain actions with the (meta)data. When you request a new version of your data collection, we recommend that you document what changed in this new version compared to the previous version of your collection. You can do this by adding documentation files to your collection. The version number of your collection is automatically added to your collection’s metadata by the RDR.

Since the RDR is not a domain-specific repository, it does not offer community specific standards. We do, however, recommend that you make use of standards if they exist in your field of research. Examples of standards for documenting and organising your dataset include MIAME (Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment), MIAPE (Minimum Information About a Proteomics Experiments) and BIDS (the Brain Imaging Data Structure). Visit our best practice page on data organisation to see an extensive list of current standards.