Towards the tipping point for fair implementation

Mirjam van Reisen, Mia Stokmans, Mariam Basajja, Antony Otieno Ong’ayo, Christine Kirkpatrick, Barend Mons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the global implementation of the FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific management and data stewardship, which provide that data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. The implementation of these principles is designed to lead to the stewardship of data as FAIR digital objects and the establishment of the Internet of FAIR Data and Services (IFDS). If implementation reaches a tipping point, IFDS has the potential to revolutionize how data is managed by making machine and human readable data discoverable for reuse. Accordingly, this article examines the expansion of the implementation of FAIR Guiding Principles, especially how and in which geographies (locations) and areas (topic domains) implementation is taking place. A literature review of academic articles published between 2016 and 2019 on the use of FAIR Guiding Principles is presented. The investigation also includes an analysis of the domains in the IFDS Implementation Networks (INs). Its uptake has been mainly in the Western hemisphere. The investigation found that implementation of FAIR Guiding Principles has taken firm hold in the domain of bio and natural sciences. To achieve a tipping point for FAIR implementation, it is now time to ensure the inclusion of non-European ascendants and of other scientific domains. Apart from equal opportunity and genuine global partnership issues, a permanent European bias poses challenges with regard to the representativeness and validity of data and could limit the potential of IFDS to reach across continental boundaries. The article concludes that, despite efforts to be inclusive, acceptance of the FAIR Guiding Principles and IFDS in different scientific communities is limited and there is a need to act now to prevent dampening of the momentum in the development and implementation of the IFDS. It is further concluded that policy entrepreneurs and the GO FAIR INs may contribute to making the FAIR Guiding Principles more flexible in including different research epistemologies, especially through its GO CHANGE pillar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages12
JournalData Intelligence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Data-driven science
  • Digital Health
  • FAIR Data
  • FAIR Implementation Networks
  • Health
  • MHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Artificial Intelligence


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