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Netherlands eScience Center and DANS launch new FAIR Software website

The Netherlands eScience Center and Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) have developed a new FAIR Software website for researchers. The website, which was officially launched during the National eScience Symposium on 21 November 2019, provides recommendations to researchers on ways to improve the quality and reproducibility of their software.

Research software has become a fundamental part of current research practice and is also considered an increasingly important research output. As such, there is a growing awareness of the importance of improving the quality of research software as well as the recognition research software engineers receive from producing such software.

The FAIR principles are meant to help researchers and developers improve the reusability and reproducibility of software by providing a set of guiding principles to make research software findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR). The principles, which are increasingly viewed as a hallmark of excellent research, originated in the field of data management. Their applicability to software is currently a topic of active research.

The new FAIR Software website aims to encourage the greater adoption of FAIR principles by providing a set of starting recommendations that researchers can use to improve the quality, reach and reproducibility of their software. The website is a joint initiative between the eScience Center and DANS.

"Together with our partners at DANS, we as the eScience Center are proud to have been involved in making this website a reality", stated Rob van Nieuwpoort, acting director. "The website answers a growing need among researchers for a set of good practices that can guide them in developing software that is of excellent quality, is reproducible and can be widely reused by other researchers, potentially in different disciplines. I have no doubt the FAIR Software site will become a vital go-to reference for the research community."

"It was wonderful to work with such a diverse group of people", stated Dr. Carlos Martinez-Ortiz, eScience Research Engineer and closely involved in the development of the website. "FAIR is a very important trend in science and has mostly been applied to data. But software is also extremely important for science and how the FAIR principles can be applied to software is an important step in improving the quality of research software."

The launch of the website coincides with a recent position paper authored by a group of international researchers that summarizes the current status of the debate around FAIR and software as a basis for the development of community-agreed principles for FAIR research software. The authors discuss the differences between software and data with regard to the application of the FAIR principles. In addition, they present an analysis of where the existing principles can be applied to software directly, where they need to be adapted or reinterpreted, and where the definition of additional principles is required.