defining FAIR for research hardware

| November 10, 2021

This blog post will present our progresses in our work on defining FAIR for research hardware. It has been updated, you can see its history on github.


After a gosh forum entry and initial meetings, we have created a RDA group for FAIR hardware: httpS:// The group has agreed on a charter that has been endorsed by the RDA. Our next tasks are:

  • Preparing the plenary and get more members
  • Work on the definition of open hardware.

Refer to the group page for history of emails and minutes of meetings. We only give a very short history here. Minutes were taken via an etherpad:$FAIR4RH-1 Documents were worked in a googledoc:


Project History

First meeting (2021-11-03)

After calling for participants via the GOSH forum, we pulled a group of about 12 interested people.

We met online on November the third, about half of the interested people could make it. During this one hour meeting, we presented shortly our relation to hardware. Julien Colomb then presented the Open.Make project and the reasons why we wanted to define FAIR principles (insisting on the differences between using principles over standards or guidelines) for hardware.

He also shortly presented the main outputs of his discussion with Daniel Katz, who has been involved in the development of FAIR for research software, and the software citation group. They used RDA and Force in order to maximise the visibility of their output, and the RDA working group was an enabler, mostly by setting deadlines to the group.

Then, Nadica Miljković presented the work they have been doing to define FAIR for hardware, see, she especially talked about table 2. We then discussed what this group could bring to that previous initiative, and came to these conclusions:

  • Getting community feedback and review of the principles.
  • Producing a more complete document (similar to the FAIR4RS one).
  • Maximizing outreach and adoption of the principles.

We also discussed what strategey would be the most effective, and the most suited to our own schedule and tasks.

  • RDA working groups comes with a big commitment in terms of time to invest.
  • FORCE11 groups (and RDA interest groups) are more loose and flexible.
  • Another strategy discussed was to take the paper in its form and get it endorsed and signed by the community, similar to what the TOP guidelines did.

Finally, we ended the meeting, with giving us the task to draft a putative action plan/vision, in order to discuss it during the next meeting. Here it is!

Putative work plans for the FAIR4RH group

Two different timelines depending whether we would like to do a RDA WG (up) or not (below), on the upper right are some putative working groups that would deal with different approaches for the definition of FAIR for hardware.

Second meeting

After presenting the timelines plans, we decided to go for a RDA interest group, and we hope to get a first declaration for the end of the open.make project in 2023. The RDA group attracted other members, notably from other RDA groups.

There are still many question that remain to be answered, the following ones came into our internal (open.make) discussions:

  • Can we apply the FAIR principles to hardware in general, or are there particularities for different types of hardware
  • Define where principles stops and specifications starts
  • How FAIR principles are/will be related to hardware publication
  • What outputs for the group (RDA document, paper,…)

RDA first meeting is meant for January 2022.

RDA meetings


  • decision to use email as a communication channel
  • work on the charter.



  • Discussion research hardware definition:


  • Discussion research hardware definition
  • Plenary preparation