Ten Simple Rules for making a vocabulary FAIR

Published in PLoS Computational Biology, 2021

Recommended citation: Cox SJD, Gonzalez-Beltran AN, Magagna B, Marinescu MC (2021) Ten simple rules for making a vocabulary FAIR. PLOS Computational Biology 17(6): e1009041. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009041 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009041

This is a peer-reviewed publication available in PLoS Computational Biology.

Ten simple rules for making a vocabulary FAIR

We present ten simple rules that support converting a list of terms not currently accessible using web standards into a vocabulary conforming to the FAIR principles–Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. In a FAIR vocabulary each term has its own persistent web-identifier, and its definition can be downloaded in both human- and standard machine-readable formats. The goal is to enable terminology to be unambiguously cited within technical datasets, in both the dataset description, or individual fields within the data, so that data can be discovered and integrated. The rules consider arrangements for governance of a terminology alongside the technical aspects related to conversion of (typically) print-based forms to standards-based knowledge representations. The rules are presented in the sequence in which they should be considered in a conversion process.


We included some supplementary material and examples in the FAIR vocabularies website.


This peer-reviewed publication was first available as a pre-print in arXiv. See more details about the pre-print here

This pre-print presents Ten Simple Rules for making a vocabulary FAIR. For this work, we have built a related website on FAIR vocabularies.