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About the FAIR WISH Project

"FAIR Workflows to establish IGSN for Samples in the Helmholtz Association” (FAIR WISH) is a joint project between the Helmholtz Centres GFZ, AWI and Hereon. It was was funded 2022-2023 by the Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association within the HMC Project Cohorte 2020 of the Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration Platform HMC.

The aim of FAIR WISH was to foster the wider application of IGSNs in the Geoscience domain. As IGSN agent since 2015, GFZ mainly registered IGSNs which descriptive metadata have already been collected in digital sample management systems, like the mobile Drilling Information System (mDIS), developed by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), or project-related digital sample management systems. The IGSN metadata were generated as database export. Metadata submissions (as tables) by individual researchers were only the exception. Moreover, while the full IGSN metadata schema comprises more than 100 properties, only a fraction is required to describe individual samples or sample types. 

FAIR WISH addressed these challenges and developed standardised and discipline specific IGSN metadata profiles for different samples types and the FAIR SAMPLES Template. The FAIR SAMPLES Template, developed based on Excel, provides users, specifically users with individual sample collections (constituting a large share in Geosciences communities) an easy and flexible way to assemble the metadata of their samples independent of the sample’s level of digitalisation and the training of the users. In addition, this template can be used for automated generation of IGSN metadata managed in databases. It can also be used as a guideline, especially for the integration of controlled and linked-data vocabularies (SKOS/ RDF). Linked-data vocabularies are essential for the creation of ontologies as they enable interlinking and comparing sample metadata in machine-actionable and interoperable form. To further enrich sample metadata description, we extended the IGSN controlled vocabularies to better describe samples outside the solid earth geoscience domains, so that now also water or vegetation samples can be well described.

Further project outcomes are a comprehensive list of published controlled vocabularies for sample descriptions of different sample types (rock, sediment, water, vegetation) that will be included in the new version of the GFZ IGSN Metadata Schema and the development of the software SAMIRA - Sample Registration Automation. Project presentations and outcome are published within the FAIR WISH Zenodo Community.

The use cases we identified for IGSN registration within FAIR WISH represent a large variety in sample types and subdisciplines across the project partners and all states of digitisation – from individual scientists, collecting sample descriptions in their field books to digital sample management systems fed by an app that is used in the field.

FAIR WISH Use Cases and Outcomes

AWI Use case: Assign IGSNs to Samples from Russian-German Expeditions

GFZ Use Case: Scientific Drilling Project Adlershof: Fit up with Standardized Metadata

Hereon Use Case: Automatically Assign IGSNs for a Sample Database