Features of a FAIR vocabulary

Fuqi Xu, Nick Juty, Carole Goble, Simon Jupp, Helen Parkinson, Mélanie Courtot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable(FAIR) Principles explicitly require the use of FAIR vocabularies, but what precisely constitutes a FAIR vocabulary remains unclear. Being able to define FAIR vocabularies, identify features of FAIR vocabularies, and provide assessment approaches against the features can guide the development of vocabularies.

We differentiate data, data resources and vocabularies used for FAIR, examine the application of the FAIR Principles to vocabularies, align their requirements with the Open Biomedical Ontologies principles, and propose FAIR Vocabulary Features. We also design assessment approaches for FAIR vocabularies by mapping the FVFs with existing FAIR assessment indicators. Finally, we demonstrate how they can be used for evaluating and improving vocabularies using exemplary biomedical vocabularies.

Our work proposes features of FAIR vocabularies and corresponding indicators for assessing the FAIR levels of different types of vocabularies, identifies use cases for vocabulary engineers, and guides the evolution of vocabularies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalJournal of Biomedical Semantics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • FAIR assessment
  • FAIR principles
  • Ontology
  • Vocabulary


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