Ten simple rules for making training materials FAIR – Course and Conference Office


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Ten simple rules for making training materials FAIR

Melissa Burke, Scientific Training Officer, EMBL-EBI

Article written by: Melissa Burke, Scientific Training Officer, EMBL-EBI

As a Scientific Training Officer I often have to pull together training on topics that are new to me. What’s the first thing I do in this situation? Well, I draw on all of my scientific training and research skills and … Google it. Yep, an internet search is my first step in figuring out what the topic is about and what’s been taught before, and whether there are any materials/images, etc that I can reuse. It’s a great source of inspiration!

But this can also be frustrating and takes quite a lot of time. Material and information tends to be scattered all across the internet. It can be hidden behind paywalls, require a login to access, or lack enough context to be fully understandable. And even then, it is hard to know whether the materials can be reused nor how to credit the original author. I often find myself going round in circles and end up recreating new slides from scratch. Why isn’t there a better way of sharing materials? One that makes them easier to find?

These frustrations are familiar to many trainers across ELIXIR and we’ve been working together to figure out what we can do about it. As bioinformatics trainers we are also scientists or researchers and this problem is something that we’ve experienced with, for example, research data.

The good news is that things are getting better for research data because of the development of the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable principles that states materials should be quick to find, easily accessed, will work across a variety of platforms & settings and can be used time and time again. Could the same be possible for training materials?

Wiegers, Luc and van Gelder, Celia W. G. Illustration for the paper “Ten simple rules for making training materials FAIR”. DOI 10.5281/zenodo.3593257

To help answer this question we picked up on work that started at the ELIXIR BioHackathon Europe 2018 to put together 10 Simple Rules for Making Training Materials FAIR

  1. Share
  2. Describe properly
  3. Give a unique identity
  4. Register online
  5. Define access rules
  6. Use interoperable format
  7. Make (re)usable for trainers
  8. Make usable for trainees
  9. Welcome contributions
  10. Keep materials up-to-date

Hopefully these simple rules make it a little bit easier for trainers to start sharing their materials in a way that makes them easier to find, (re)use, and cite. Let’s use this opportunity to spark conversation and collaboration within global training communities that lead to wider and better sharing of materials (and the inspiration that comes with them!).

  • Want to know more? Read the rules in full in PLoS Computational Biology. Which of the FAIR principles do you think is most important for Training materials?
  • Read more about the people and projects we collaborate with at EMBL-EBI Training on our dedicated partnerships website.