Criteria for inclusion of a standard in COMBINE

The aim of COMBINE is to help foster the development of a set of open, interoperable and non-overlapping standards in systems biology. In order to be included in the set of COMBINE standards, an effort must, at a minimum, fulfill the following criteria:

  1. The standard must cover aspects of modeling in biology that are significantly different from those already catered for by the existing set of COMBINE standards. This includes, but is not limited to, covering different modeling approaches, different biological scales or biological entities, different types of representations.
  2. The standards must be described in technical specification documents as well as, when appropriate, formal specification languages (for instance, but not solely, XML Schemas, UML diagrams, and so on). The technical specifications must be precise enough to allow certifiable software support.
  3. The specifications and other materials describing the specifications (including, for instance, XML Schemas and UML diagrams) must be publicly available free of charge to everyone and be unencumbered by licensing restrictions. If a specification material is covered by a license, it should allow use and redistribution by anyone. And example of a suitable license would be the creative commons with attribution.
  4. The development of the standard must be open. The entire COMBINE community must be able to participate without exclusion. Proper ways of communication, must ensure that the community can express needs, criticisms and suggestions about all aspects of the standards. Examples include open development mailing lists with open archives, open source code repository, open website (no password protection).
  5. The standard must be developed and used by more than a single team or organisation.
  6. The development process must be led by editorial boards comprised of democratically elected members, possibly assisted by expert committees nominated by the editorial boards.
  7. There must exist a mature software support, including standard API implementations, that facilitates the use of the standard. If possible, validation tools such as test suite, validators, etc., should exist as well.
  8. The development of the standard must be stable; for instance, it must be supported by established teams and/or reliable funding sources. The standard must be actively developed.