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Rules of Engagement

(to be signed by all participants of implementation networks)

To join a GO FAIR Implementation Network, each partner should:
Answer to the FAIR Data Principles: The GO FAIR implementation plan for the Internet of FAIR Data and Services (IFDS) as a whole will answer to the FAIR Guiding Principles. This means that data resources, services, and training materials will be developed according to these principles and will be adorned with rich, machine-readable metadata, and that they will thus be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable under well-defined conditions, by machines and humans.
Abide by the Governance Principles: A GO FAIR partner should formally acknowledge and endorse the general Governance principles of the GO FAIR initiative.
Accept to be stakeholder-governed: The GO FAIR implementation approach for the IFDS is stakeholder-governed. A self-coordinating, board-governed organisation drawn from the stakeholder Implementation Network community creates trust that the organisation will take decisions driven by community consensus, considering different interests.
Accept non-discriminatory membership: When willing to sign the Rules of Engagement, any stakeholder may express an interest in and should be welcome to join GO FAIR.
Conduct transparent operations: Achieving trust in the selection of representatives in governance groups will be best achieved through transparent processes and operations in general (within the constraints of privacy laws).
Not abuse its trusted provider or GO FAIR status for undue lobbying for its own services, especially with the aim to monopolise critical components of the IFDS.

In the envisioned Internet of FAIR data and services (IFDS), all data, services, and other digital objects that drive the research process, deserve the utmost respect and care.

GO FAIR Implementation Networks deal with domain-specific content and services, as well as the key infrastructure to run the IFDS. Infrastructure at its best is invisible, i.e., we tend to only notice it when it fails. If successful, it is stable and sustainable and largely (quite literally) ‘taken for granted’. Above all, it is trusted and relied on by the broad community it serves. Therefore, we require trust in running (governance), funding (sustainability), and preserving community ownership of (assurance) the infrastructure.

In this spirit, we have drafted a set of Rules of Engagement to support the development of GO FAIR Implementation Networks that create and federate modules and components of a shared infrastructure such as the EOSC and ultimately the IFDS. These Rules of Engagement should be signed by all participants of GO FAIR Implementation Networks. The General Governance principles and the actual Rules of Engagement have been conceived following these premises:
All data and other research objects should have a persistent identifier (PID) and FAIR metadata. In addition, the data themselves should be made FAIR if possible. Services that deal with data and analytics should also contain FAIR metadata and they will need to be able to operate on FAIR data to be fully operational in the IFDS.
Sustainability issues should be properly addressed in the development of the IFDS as a public good. We recognise the value of private partners, but we also acknowledge that they traditionally do not answer to any community oversight. In addition, many public and private parties are not obliged to continue to provide services at their current rates, particularly when these rates are not commercially viable. We also recognise the sustainability issues associated with academic solutions that run on cyclic research project funding without proper long-term support. Today, publicly-funded projects are under substantial pressure to show revenue opportunities. This often drives them into areas where they lack expertise.
Public-private partnerships may be a very fruitful approach leading to sustainability, especially where publicly-conceived and developed services become so important that they need to be reliable and stable. Entirely public or private consortia may also play a role in GO FAIR.
An appropriate funding scheme needs to be demonstrated to allow for the proper development and support for academically and/or privately conceived infrastructure, prototypes, and reliable services for data, software, and/or other services and tools related to research.
It is very important for the IFDS to learn from the early developments of the Internet. We should avoid previous mistakes in scholarly communication, where a lack of community engagement and governance led to a lack of community control and subsequent locking-up of what should have been community resources. In particular, the data that are generated by the actions of the publicly-funded research community should be a community resource, and as open as possible, but in all cases FAIR. However, as noted in the report of the EOSC high-level expert group, we acknowledge that community resources are not always open and not free by default. We should make absolutely clear in the context of GO FAIR that ‘free does not exist’. At best, ‘other people paid for it’. The term ‘open’ has also been discussed earlier; we recognise the need for data to be accessible under well-defined and transparent conditions.

(supported by national and international support offices of GO FAIR)

The Rules of Engagement should safeguard the following General Governance Principles:
Key services in the IFDS should be run as a common public good and should not be co-opted by particular interest groups, either public or private, so as to avoid single points of control or failure.
The IFDS remains responsive to the changing needs of the community.
GO FAIR Implementation Networks are conceived as open to all global partners that wish to join and will voluntarily sign the Rules of Engagement.
A GO FAIR Implementation Network should promote the optimal sharing and reuse of data and services and should never inhibit other public, private, or public/private parties from developing services, but rather stimulate them to do so.
GO FAIR Implementation Networks should commit to optimal efforts to avoid unnecessary competition on generic infrastructure components and the re-invention of wheels.
The FAIR principles will be guiding for data as well as for the related services.
Developing monopolies and vendor lock-in for core infrastructure and services should be avoided and actively spotted and reported by the existing GO FAIR Implementation Networks.

Therefore, we propose the Rules of Engagement listed above for any constituency (public, private, or in partnership) that wishes to enter a GO FAIR Implementation Network with the aim to collaborate on the development or the maintenance of components of the IFDS and to potentially become endorsed as a formal trustworthy provider of data resources and/or services in formally governed infrastructures such as the EOSC or the USA Commons.

Note: In line with the concept of the Internet of FAIR data and service, the GO FAIR initiative will obviously be open to any provider (public or private) that offers research and innovation-related services. However, in the foreseeable future, a subgroup of certified providers will likely form the basis of a trusted environment (where certification is seen in itself as a necessary component of the IFDS, and will therefore emerge from the activities of one or more GO FAIR Implementation Networks).