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FAIR Guiding Principle A2: 

metadata are accessible, even when the data are no longer available

Interpretation of A2

There is a continued focus on keeping relevant digital resources available in the future. Data may no longer be accessible either by design (e.g. a defined lifespan within limited financial resources or legal requirements to destroy sensitive data) or by accident. However, given that those data may have been used and are referenced by others, it is important that consumers (including machines) have, at the very least, access to high quality and machine actionable metadata that describes those resources sufficiently to minimally understand their nature and their provenance, even when the relevant data are not available anymore. This principle relies heavily on the “second purpose” of principle F3 (the metadata record contains the identifier of the data), because in the case where the data record is no longer available, there must be a clear and precise way of discovering its historical metadata record. This aspect of accessibility is further elaborated in the Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles [23].

This interpretation of A2 is based on 'FAIR Principles: Interpretations and Implementation Considerations'. Jacobsen et al, Data Intelligence 2020; 2 (1-2): 10–29. doi:

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  • [23] M. Martone . Data citation synthesis group: Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles. San Diego CA FORCE11, no. principle 6, 2014. 10.25490/a97f-egyk.