NSF Data Management Plan FAQ

What is the requirement?

On January 18, 2011, the National Science Foundation (NSF) began requiring a data management plan (DMP) with all new research proposals.

NSF has long had a data sharing requirement stipulating that investigators must share their research results "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." The requirement now also says that "[g]rantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing."

Am I affected?

The policy on Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results applies to new research proposals submitted on or after January 18, 2011. It does not pertain to supplemental support for existing awards.

What do I need to submit to the NSF?

The NSF requires a supplementary document of no more than two pages describing how the proposal will conform to its data sharing policy. Key pieces of information to include are:

  • Types of data (including samples, physical collections, software)
  • Metadata standards to be used
  • Policies for access and sharing (including provisions for privacy/intellectual property)
  • Policies and provisions for re-use
  • Plans for archiving and preservation of access

A valid DMP may include only the statement that no detailed plan is needed, as long as the statement is accompanied by a clear justification.

Directorate and Program Guidance

Several NSF programs provide guidance on the preparation of data management plans within that community. Plans specific to the NSF directorate or program should be followed and take priority. Please refer to the Directorate specific information page on our website or to the appropriate directorate on the NSF website.

Are the requirements the same for all new research proposals?

Some directorates and programs have specific DMP requirements. You will need to check with the directorate or program to which you are submitting your application to see whether this is the case. If there are no more specific guidelines, then the requirements above apply.

How is the policy being implemented?

NSF will implement these policies for dissemination and sharing of research results through:

  • The proposal review process
  • Award negotiations and conditions
  • Appropriate support and incentives for data cleanup, documentation, storage, etc.

How and where do I deposit my data?

In many cases, the data type and disciplinary culture will determine the most appropriate place for sharing (e.g., ICPSR for social science survey response data or NODC for oceanographic data). Not all research disciplines have established repositories for data, but a number of them do.

What happens if I don't comply?

FastLane and Research.gov will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a DMP. The DMP will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, coming under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts or both, as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance.

I have further questions.

You may also want to refer to the NSF FAQ on data sharing if the documentation on this page does not answer your question