FAIR data station for lightweight metadata management and validation of omics studies

B. Nijsse, P.J. Schaap, J.J. Koehorst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The life sciences are one of the biggest suppliers of scientific data. Reusing and connecting these data can uncover hidden insights and lead to new concepts. Efficient reuse of these datasets is strongly promoted when they are interlinked with a sufficient amount of machine-actionable metadata. While the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) guiding principles have been accepted by all stakeholders, in practice, there are only a limited number of easy-to-adopt implementations available that fulfill the needs of data producers.

We developed the FAIR Data Station, a lightweight application written in Java, that aims to support researchers in managing research metadata according to the FAIR principles. It implements the ISA metadata framework and uses minimal information metadata standards to capture experiment metadata. The FAIR Data Station consists of 3 modules. Based on the minimal information model(s) selected by the user, the “form generation module” creates a metadata template Excel workbook with a header row of machine-actionable attribute names. The Excel workbook is subsequently used by the data producer(s) as a familiar environment for sample metadata registration. At any point during this process, the format of the recorded values can be checked using the “validation module.” Finally, the “resource module” can be used to convert the set of metadata recorded in the Excel workbook in RDF format, enabling (cross-project) (meta)data searches and, for publishing of sequence data, in an European Nucleotide Archive–compatible XML metadata file.

Turning FAIR into reality requires the availability of easy-to-adopt data FAIRification workflows that are also of direct use for data producers. As such, the FAIR Data Station provides, in addition to the means to correctly FAIRify (omics) data, the means to build searchable metadata databases of similar projects and can assist in ENA metadata submission of sequence data. The FAIR Data Station is available at https://fairbydesign.nl.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergiad014
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2023


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