FAIR Signposting: A KISS Approach to a Burning Issue

“Various FAIR criteria pertaining to machine interaction with scholarly artifacts can commonly be addressed by means of repository-wide affordances that are uniformly provided for all hosted artifacts rather than through artifact-specific interventions. If various repository platforms provide such affordances in an interoperable manner, devising tools – for both human and machine use – that leverage them becomes easier.

My involvement, over the years, in a range of interoperability efforts has brought the insight that two factors strongly influence adoption: addressing a burning issue and delivering a KISS solution to tackle it. Undoubtedly, FAIR and FAIR DOs are burning issues. FAIR Signposting <https://signposting.org/FAIR/> is an ad-hoc repository interoperability effort that squarely fits in this problem space and that purposely specifies a KISS solution, hoping to inspire wide adoption.”

Supporting the “A” in FAIR. Improving machine access to repository resources through the adoption of signposting – COAR

“Signposting is a standardized way of presenting information about a scholarly resource in a repository record, or other type of information provider, that allows machines to identify where the full text resource is located.

Why signposting? It is hard for web crawlers and other discovery service providers to identify the location of the full text content in a repository record. When visiting scholarly portals, readers can easily figure out landing pages, links to bibliographic records, authorship, etc. But, because portals use different conventions to convey such patterns, machines have a hard time finding their way around.

How does in work? Signposting uses Typed Links as a means to clarify patterns that occur repeatedly in scholarly portals. Repository administrators can change that by implementing some of the Signposting patterns into the repository splash page. Doing so will allow machines to navigate repositories in a uniform manner. This is very important, because it will enable others to develop applications which make use of the content in repositories, which will make things easier for readers too. Signposting supports the automatic discovery of a variety of resources that pertain to a scholarly object, including a bibliographic description, a persistent identifier, a license, authors, or various resources that are part of the object.

The COAR Next Generation Repositories Report recommends the adoption of signposting in repositories as a mechanism for improving discovery and machine access to repository resources….”