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FAIRplus Dataset Maturity (DSM) Model

The FAIRplus-DSM model is intended as a comprehensive reference model for state-of-FAIRness improvement in research datasets. Based on the FAIR guiding principles, the DSM model defines and classifies requirements that constitute an incremental path towards improving FAIRness level for a given research dataset.

FAIRplus-DSM Assumptions & Conceptual Model


According to the FAIRplus-DSM, a Dataset is the unit of Data that is defined for the purpose of FAIR sharing and reuse. This means that users of the model should think about the representation and structuring of their data into Datasets that can be exchanged between a hosting environment and an end user. The model also refers to the unit of metadata that describes each Dataset as the Dataset Descriptor.

The model includes indicators that guide the creation of Dataset Descriptors for content and representation at different levels of maturity. Similarly, the model includes indicators that guide the modeling and inclusion of FAIR-related requirements in the dataset (referred to as Dataset Model), which is part of what the Dataset Descriptor includes to describe the dataset. Three different levels of data granularity are referred to by the FAIR-DSM model indicators when referring to the Dataset Model: Dataset level, Dataset Field Level, and Value-set Level.

A Dataset is also contextualised by being associated with a Domain Model, which provides the necessary information to understand and interpret the dataset(s) content.

The three dimensions of FAIR Data Maturation


The model is comprised of three categories of requirements as described below. These requirements are prescribed by a set of indicators defined for each level.

  • Content-related: What is reported in the Dataset (data) & the Dataset Descriptor (metadata).
  • Representation and format: How the data object & metadata object are represented and formatted.
  • Hosting environment capabilities: What capabilities of the hosting environment that enables and supports the use of FAIR data.

Maturity levels

The FAIRplus-DSM model presents five levels of FAIR. Each level is characterised by increasing requirements across the three categories of the FAIR requirements. The diagram below provides a summary description and perspective for each level.


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The FAIRplus DSM Model content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.