Make sure your data is
Findable, Accessible,
Interoperable and


The FAIR Data Platform is an interoperable research infrastructure, which ensures that all data generated within an UNLOCK-project is annotated, analyzed and safely stored according to the FAIR guiding principles. The platform supports the user community by providing not only access to the data, but also the necessary tools for data discovery and manipulation.

FAIR Data storage, compute, workflows
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Monitoring the physiological states of a microbial community and exploration of inter-microbial interactions requires a data management system that is able to share information and services at an advanced level. Obviously, this allows for tight integration of wet-dry lab approaches. The basic functionality of such a system includes data and metadata 1) collection, 2) integration and 3) delivery.

Platform benefits

Maintaining a high degree of data interoperability is key. It requires automatic integration of laboratory process execution (LIMS) data, collected (-omics) assay data and associated experimental metadata in a Findable Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) format. Application of these four foundational principles will allow researchers to extract maximum benefit from the research investments made.

A schematic representation of the data infrastructure used within UNLOCK. The iRODs data management system captures the experimental data streams. To enable the FAIR-by-design principles, element- and data-wise experimental metadata generated by the lab equipment used and other required experimental metadata is automatically linked with the datastreams and permanently stored within the iRODS infrastructure. High throughput analysis of the data is done using a scalable cloud-based infrastructure and dockerized open source applications. Compute results and corresponding metadata are stored in the iRODS platform using the ISA data model. Further post-processing can be done using structured data analysis processes integrated in Jupyter Notebooks.

Platform units

UNLOCK Knowledge management consist of four parts:

  • An integrated Rule-Oriented Data management System (iRODS) takes care of the collected (raw) assay data, transformed data and metadata.
  • In the UNLOCK iRODS implementation, data files and folder are hierarchically organized through implementation of the Investigation/Study/Assay (ISA) format. This is an open general-purpose framework to collect and communicate complex metadata. In this set-up an ‘Investigation’ is collection of experiments revolving around a set of common research questions. Thus, the Investigation folder forms the root of a set of hierarchically organized folders and files containing data and meta-data derived from experiments related to the research questions.
  • Experimental design meta-data is used to: 1) automatically create the appropriate ISA folder structure at the start of the Investigation and 2) automatically start data crunching when raw data is obtained.
  • Standardized workflows and container technology is used to transform the raw data in information.

Maintenance of the UNLOCK iRODs infrastructure and long-term preservation of data generated within the UNLOCK infrastructure is outsourced to SURF.

Below a 16-minute webinar explaining the technical aspects of the FAIR Data Platform