2021 Interoperability for Cross-Domain Research: FAIR Vocabularies


This workshop builds on the outcomes of two previous Dagstuhl Workshops in 2018 and 2019 on the alignment of standards and technologies for cross-domain data combination. The first two workshops in this series have produced draft guidelines and use case documentation to provide insight into the cross-domain challenges which form the focus of the ISC CODATA Decadal Programme on ‘Making Data Work for Cross-Domain Grand Challenges’.

With the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, the workshop will be conducted both in person and virtually.

Scope and Background

The Australian workshop is oriented around the theme of controlled vocabularies and vocabulary services. The focus will be to develop and pilot the technical and administrative services necessary to publish FAIR vocabularies, in particular to implement the Ten Simple Rules for making a vocabulary FAIR (Cox et al. 2021). Participants will work collaboratively to assess the guidelines, and to develop a pilot implementation of the process with a set of predetermined vocabularies. These pilots will be oriented around a couple of worked examples from the social science and health domains, drawing on experiences and capability of project participants from the environmental science community, where the process has been reasonably well established.

 The use of these worked examples will enable the workshop team to focus on key challenges in vocabulary service delivery, including:

  • the purpose(s) for which vocabularies are used?

  • the range and type of uses that users apply vocabularies to?

  • the use of vocabularies in particular domains versus those intended for cross-domain application (e.g. units of measurement).

  • machine-actionability of the vocabularies

Suggested Objectives and Deliverables

The objectives of the FAIR Vocabularies workshop are four-fold:

  1. To apply the Ten Simple Rules to current Australian cross-domain use cases, to assess the suitability of the Rules for vocabularies in use

  2. To identify and describe relevant administrative and authorisation practices required for proper governance of FAIR vocabularies

  3. To outline a technical framework for the implementation of a FAIR vocabulary service and ecosystem (aligned to the needs of both human and machine users)

  4. To discuss best practices and workflows for adoption of FAIR vocabularies established under the governance and technical arrangements above (objectives 2 & 3)

The proposed deliverables are aligned with these objectives:

  1. A set of case studies that assess existing vocabularies against the Rules

  2. A set of best practices guidelines for governing and managing FAIR vocabularies

  3. A draft specification for the FAIR vocabulary technical framework

  4. A set of best practice guidelines for the adoption of FAIR vocabularies


  1. https://ddi-alliance.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/DDI4/pages/2764242945

  2. https://ddi-alliance.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/DDI4/pages/2760802312

  3. https://ddi-alliance.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/DDI4/pages/2764668929

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Date and Location

The workshop took place virtually in Australian daytime, from September 27 to October 1, 2021.

Daily sessions:

  • 10:00 - 12:30

  • 13:30 - 16:00

Virtual meeting rooms (TBC):



  • Rowan Brownlee, Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)

  • Simon Cox, CSIRO Australia and W3C Dataset Exchange Working Group

  • Kheeran Dharmawardena, Cytrax & Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment

  • Arofan Gregory, Consultant and DDI Alliance

  • Simon Hodson, CODATA - Committee on Data of the International Science Council (ISC)

  • Steven McEachern, Australian National University and DDI Alliance

  • Hilde Orten, Norwegian Center for Research (NSD) and DDI Alliance

  • Joachim Wackerow, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and DDI Alliance

  • Lesley Wyborn, Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)