Ten easy guidelines for making training materials FAIR

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Author summary

In consequence, casual training courses are typically needed to plug the gaps; and the demand for such training is growing worldwide. To meet this demand, some training programs are being broadened, and brand-new ones are being developed. Here, we reveal how to apply these guidelines to assist make training products simpler to discover, (re) usage, and adapt, for the benefit of all.

Citation: Garcia L, Batut B, Burke ML, Kuzak M, Psomopoulos F, Arcila R, et al. (2020) 10 easy guidelines for making training products FAIR. PLoS Comput Biol 16( 5 ):.


Editor: Scott Markel, Dassault Systemes BIOVIA, UNITED STATES

Published: May 21, 2020

Copyright: © 2020 Garcia et al. This is an open access short article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which allows unlimited use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, offered the original author and source are credited.

Funding: The authors got no specific funding for this work.


Worldwide need for bioinformatics and computational biology training continues to grow. This need has actually been satisfied by increasing the supply of training chances, including face-to-face workshops [1], e-learning [2], webinars [3], and so on. A major task in developing brand-new training sessions is preparing training products, which can be time consuming and challenging for both brand-new and knowledgeable fitness instructors. One option is to discover and (re) use existing products. This requires that they have actually been shared, correctly described, and provided for (re) usage by their authors; but finding appropriate online materials that aren’t based on licensing and/or copyright restrictions can be difficult. They are likewise typically scattered across various repositories, are siloed in their house institutions, or do not have the metadata required to allow their (re) use. If we are to fulfill the demand for bioinformatics and computational biology training, we require to share and deliver training materials consistently, following finest practices that allow their (re) use and adjustment [4,5].

Within the European life sciences facilities for biological information (ELIXIR) [10], the Training Platform [11] is collecting and sharing details about training products from 23 participating European nodes by means of the Training e-Support System (TeSS)[12] As part of that procedure, we are exploring the application of the FAIR principles to those products, in order to enhance their (re) usability.

Here, we provide fitness instructors some easy guidelines, summarized in Fig 1, to assist make their training materials FAIR, allowing others to discover, (re) usage, and adjust them. We use a broad meaning of “training materials” to include any digital item used in a training context (e.g., slide discussions, exercises, datasets, etc.).


Fig 1. Ten basic rules for making training materials FAIR.

The first guideline– to share– is the main beginning point; the Findability rules include description, identity, and registration; the latter two, together with gain access to rules, correspond to Ease of access; Interoperability bases on its own, with one guideline about formats; the remaining four guidelines cover different elements of Reusability. Illustration from Luc Wiegers and Celia van Gelder: https://doi.org/105281/ zenodo.3593257

https://doi.org/101371/ journal.pcbi.1007854 g001

Rule 1: Plan to share your training products online

As a fitness instructor, you are most likely to be a passionate instructor and keen to share your expertise. Sharing your products is one way to achieve this, an easy step that can bring lots of benefits:

  • For you, it offers a record (and acknowledgment) of the training that you have actually developed
  • For other fitness instructors, it can provide inspiration, in terms of the content covered and approach of shipment
  • For students, it offers a navigable landscape in which to discover relevant training resources and build tailored knowing courses
  • For the bioinformatics neighborhood, it helps with methodical training-gap analyses and development of extra products and courses.

There are many methods to share products: These consist of individual or institutional Web servers; cloud-based partnership tools (e.g., Google Drive and Dropbox); cross-domain repositories (e.g., figshare [13], GitHub [14], and YouTube [15]); or specialized information repositories for datasets that are important to particular training sessions.

Ultimately, how and where you share your training products depends upon your private scenarios (consisting of institutional guidelines). Different guides have actually been established to help choose appropriate information repositories [16,17], and much of the recommendations they use also applies to picking where to share training materials. It is better to share than not to share; nevertheless, before you do, it is essential to reflect on how you can make your materials FAIR and how your choice of repository may affect this. Doing this from the beginning will enable you to share your work more efficiently and more widely.

Guideline 2: Enhance findability of your training products by effectively explaining them

Describing digital things with structured metadata is fundamental to making them FAIR.

Schema.org[18] is a collective project that helps with the addition of structured metadata to websites. It describes data types (motion pictures, books, etc.) and residential or commercial properties (star, author, and so on), which can be indexed by search engines and used to offer bits of info (like those that appear in Google searches). BioSchemas [19], a neighborhood effort to extend the Schema.org basic to life-science resources, consists of a requirements for TrainingMaterial[20] This specification, together with those for Course and CourseInstance, constitutes a joint effort between the ELIXIR Training Platform and Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Knowing, Education and Training (GOBLET) [21,22], offering community-endorsed metadata standards to make training materials more discoverable. The requirements uses guidance on the type of details to offer when sharing your training resources (e.g., prerequisites, target market, and learning results). Once annotated using BioSchemas specs, training resources can be instantly aggregated by training pc registries like TeSS.

Describing and annotating training products with appropriate keywords from regulated vocabularies, taxonomies, thesauruses, or ontologies is also essential.

Guideline 3: Give your training materials an unique identity

Training products, like any digital things whose distinct identifier is simply an uniform resource locator (URL), are at threat of vanishing, [27] due to the fact that of service retirement, link instability (e.g., when web domains are no longer available), or other factors. This problem, also referred to as “link rot” [28], can be resolved by utilizing consistent identifiers (PIDs). A PID is a distinct identification code that is connected to a digital item and signed up at an agreed area. It is ensured to remain practical, even if a company’s URL modifications [29].

Providing PIDs for training products makes them simpler to cite and assists research-metric systems to count those citations. The most typically utilized PID systems are the persistent uniform resource locator (PURL) [30], the Handle System [31], the Archival Resource Secret (ARK) [32], and the digital object identifier (DOI) [33].

Other PIDs play crucial functions in the recognition of training products, datasets, software, and other digital items. To increase the FAIRness of training products and the recognition of their authors, such PIDs can be included to a citation file or README file and/or area that accompanies the requisite metadata.

Guideline 4: Register your training materials online

To make your materials more discoverable, it is helpful to share them by means of an online pc registry that targets a particular audience (e.g., bioinformatics, physics, and so on). ELIXIR’s training website, TeSS, is a central metadata computer system registry that enables browsing and discovery of life-science training events and products presently dispersed throughout the web. The preferred, and for this reason main, mechanism for collecting training metadata in TeSS is to aggregate information from content providers immediately.

The GOBLET training website [36] likewise enables manual upload of training events and products. As in TeSS, resources are tagged using terms from the EDAM ontology and should be kept up to date by material suppliers. In addition, the GOBLET website imports and display screens training info from TeSS through an ingrained widget. This implies that GOBLET is both a content service provider and a lorry to share training details harvested by TeSS. Other computer registries consist of open instructional resources (OER) commons [37].

Guideline 5: Specify gain access to rules for your training products

Availability refers to the ability to recover content. Access to training materials might be open or limited through an access-request mechanism. Whether your training products are open or limited need to be clearly stated as part of their metadata.

Guideline 6: Utilize an interoperable format for your training products

Training products require to be caught in interoperable formats, so that they can be utilized in different contexts (e.g., running systems and software application) and built on later.

For products like slides, it is crucial that other fitness instructors are able to (re) use, fine-tune or even extend them.

Other proprietary tools, like Keynote [41], usage extremely restricting software-specific file formats.

Another commonly utilized open file format is the Portable File Format (PDF) [42], which is suitable with a variety of various operating systems, web browsers, software, and so on. If you do use PDFs, we recommend that you also make the files of origin (whether PPTX or LaTeX) readily available, so that other fitness instructors can modify and adapt them to their requirements.

There is likewise a growing trend to supply training products in Markdown (MD) and reStructuredText (RST) format and to make them readily available through services like Read the Docs [44] and GitHub.

Products such as hands-on workouts might include related software application and information, which ought to likewise be supplied in interoperable formats, following the FAIR principles[7,45] A summary of the main benefits and disadvantages of the most common training product formats is supplied in Table 1

Rule 7: Make your training materials (re) functional for trainers

You may wish to (re) use someone else’s products in entire, in part or just for inspiration. Training materials can be made easier for others to (re) use and adjust by using a proper license and annotating them with metadata (see Guideline 2).

Choosing a license is essential. By default, training products are usually copyrighted in limiting ways, such that just the initial authors and contributors can utilize, customize, and produce acquired works or distribute them. Creative Commons (CC) licenses can be applied to give authors and users appropriate rights of (re) use[46] It is important to state plainly which license has actually been picked and to include details on how the material can be pointed out, as part of the product’s metadata.

Metadata shared together with training products need to supply context and enough detail to make it possible for others to examine whether the products are suitable and versatile to their own settings. Table 2 supplies basic guidance on the type of information to include.

Rule 8: Make your training products functional for trainees

Most metadata recommended in Table 2 will also assist students to determine the most appropriate training resources for their needs. Knowing results and prerequisites are particularly helpful metadata. For discovering results to be helpful, they should be created using active verbs that express the anticipated behaviors of trainees, and the knowledge, skills, and abilities they will have obtained. Utilizing a structured technique to articulate prerequisites, target audience, and discovering results assists to clarify which students will benefit most from the training, the skills they must possess prior to enrolling on a course or overcoming a set of products, and what they can expect to be able to do upon effective conclusion of their training.

Rule 9: Make your training materials contribution friendly

If you (re) utilize training products, you may wish to supply feedback on the material (e.g., by reporting mistakes, including examples, or suggesting alternative explanations). Rules for participation and contribution should be stated. CONTRIBUTING files [47] (which specify the rules for contribution) are one way of doing this; they likewise provide opportunities to share expectations about contributions, contact information, and so on.

Such files are acknowledged in open source neighborhoods and are interoperable with some repositories: e.g., GitHub can show them in problem- or pull-requests. Utilizing a warm tone and recommending prospective preliminary contributions can assist to motivate beginners to get involved, specifically if contributions are acknowledged. All contributors should be listed and thanked in the acknowledgements; the most pertinent must be credited as authors. Simply as credit must be given to contributors, all (re) used products should likewise be acknowledged.

Guideline 10: Keep your training products up-to-date

It is essential to upgrade your training materials and to keep abreast of existing trends, brand-new functions, or developments in the field (brand-new databases releases, software versions, and so on). When and how often to update your materials will depend on how frequently the resources or computational methods they describe modification, whether new exercises or supporting media can be found to include a hint of freshness, and so on. Embracing FAIR principles in your training products will help with future updates by the neighborhood and help bring the latest advancements to users; it might even motivate other fitness instructors to change and adapt your materials to brand-new audiences and new contexts.

Final words

We are experiencing an increase in demand and supply of bioinformatics and computational biology training, and this is most likely to continue in the years ahead. It is vital that we make concerted efforts to render training materials FAIR so that everyone can benefit. The road to FAIR training may require us to change how we think; however, the FAIRification of training products is an essential action towards the democratization of understanding. We hope that these simple guidelines will spark a discussion and partnership within worldwide training neighborhoods. Let these be the initial steps towards a paradigm shift in supplying FAIR training and education for existing and future generations.


The authors would like to acknowledge the ELIXIR BioHackathon Europe 2018 for having started the hackathon task where this manuscript began. Our thanks as well to all additional factors to the FAIR for training effort in the ELIXIR Training Platform and to the ELIXIR Nodes Training Coordinators.


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