Funding agency guidelines for research data management

Research Data Management

Best Practices

Funding Agency Guidelines

National Science Foundation

NSF guidance is included in the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide. The change upholds the existing guidelines advocating open data, "[NSF] expects PIs to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the work."

“... Proposals must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. This supplement should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see AAG Chapter VI.D.4), and may include:

  1. the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  2. the standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies);
  3. policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
  4. policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
  5. plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them. Data management requirements and plans specific to the Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF unit, relevant to a proposal are available at: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp. If guidance specific to the program is not available, then the requirements established in this section apply.”

Levels of NSF Policies

The NSF has published its policies for Data Management Plans in several documents, each of which is more specific than, and adds to, the last.

In order to find the NSF policies for your discipline, we recommend going to the NSF's Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results page and looking from the bottom-up:

  1. First, look on the page for the "Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF Unit" section to see if there are specific guidelines for your field.
  2. If there's no specific document for your field, look to the more general "NSF Data Management Plan Requirements" section, which applies to all fields that don't have individualized instructions.
  3. It can also be helpful to read over the "NSF Data Sharing Policy" section of the page, which explains NSF expectations at a more general level than the other sections, or the Frequently Asked Questions page.

National Institutes of Health

See the NIH Statement on Sharing Research Data, which includes the following:

All investigator-initiated applications with direct costs greater than $500,000 in any single year will be expected to address data sharing in their application...

In some cases, Program Announcements (PA) may request data sharing plans for applications that are less than $500,000 direct costs in any single year...

The rights and privacy of people who participate in NIH-sponsored research must be protected at all times. Thus, data intended for broader use should be free of identifiers that would permit linkages to individual research participants and variables that could lead to deductive disclosure of the identity of individual subjects. When data sharing is limited, applicants should explain such limitations in their data sharing plans.

NIH has also outlined Key Elements to Consider in Preparing a Data Sharing Plan

Other Agency Guidelines and Policies

This is not a comprehensive list, but provides examples of other agency guidelines.

Maintained by: Brian Westra, bwestra@uoregon.edu