National Science Foundation Requirements

NSF has for a long time required investigators to share their research results and data. This sharing must occur “at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time,” and accordingly, “[g]rantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing.” 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 NSF?

In 2011, NSF began requiring a data management plan (DMP) with all new research proposals. A DMP should be no more than two pages long and describe how the proposal will conform to NSF’s data sharing policy. This DMP should include:

  • Types of data to be produced (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 ensuring long-term preservation

A DMP stating that no detailed plan is necessary for the proposed research is also valid as long as the statement is accompanied by a clear justification. When considering how you will respond to data sharing requirements in your DMP, in most cases the data types and disciplinary standards will determine the most appropriate place for sharing.

FastLane will not permit proposals that are missing a DMP. The DMP will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, coming under Intellectual Merit, Broader Impacts, or both, as is deemed appropriate for the scientific community of relevance. Find example DMPs.

Specific DMP Requirements

Some directorates and programs have specific DMP requirements. Plans specific to your NSF directorate or program should be followed first and take priority. Below are some highlights of the major NSF directorates; please see the guidance pages for full details.

  • Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO)

    • BIO recognizes that each area of biology may have its own definition of what constitutes data and the management of data, and that accepted norms are changing as biology becomes increasingly interdisciplinary. Therefore, DMPs should be appropriate for the data being generated and reflect the best practices and standards in the area of research being proposed.

  • Computer & Information Sciences & Engineering (CISE)

    • For CISE, both original data as well as "metadata" (e.g., experimental protocols or code written for statistical and experimental analyses) must be addressed in data management and sharing. According to the directorate, "Investigators and grantees are encouraged to share software and inventions created under an award or otherwise make them or their products widely available and usable."

  • Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR)

    • After an award is made, data management will be monitored primarily through the normal Annual and Final Report process and through evaluation of subsequent proposals. This process will determine whether data was retained and available for sharing.

  • Engineering Directorate (ENG)

    • The minimum retention period for data is 3 years. Data must be made accessible immediately after publication with the exception of information that is protected under patent.

  • Geological Sciences Directorate (GEO)

    • The Division of Earth Sciences requires data to be preserved for the long term in order to support future research. In addition, data must be made accessible no more than 2 years after their collection.
    • The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program makes provisions to ensure that drill samples are publicly available for access 36 months after research is completed.
    • The Division of Ocean Sciences requires data to be submitted to the appropriate national data center as soon as possible. More specifically, data must be submitted no later than two years after collection, and inventory of metadata must occur within sixty days after the observational period/cruise.

  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS)

    • The Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate provides directorate-wide guidance on data management and sharing. In addition, the following divisions have made statements about more specific policies relevant to their constituencies:
      • Division of Astronomical Sciences Data taken at national or private observatories may be accessible through public archives (perhaps after a standard proprietary period).
      • Division of Chemistry: Encourages principal investigators to publish data (and relevant supplementary information) in peer-reviewed journal articles within a reasonable time and the chemistry research community to maintain databases that enable access to shareable data.
      • Division of Materials Research: Not in a position to recommend a Division-specific approach. Recommends that DMPs include plans for data retention and sharing that would allow them to respond to questions about published results.
      • Division of Mathematical Sciences: "For many proposals to DMS, a statement that no data management plan is necessary will suffice, provided that a clear justification for this claim is given." For interdisciplinary proposals, the Division suggests consulting other program policies for guidance.
      • Division of Physics: "The Physics Division is not in a position to recommend a Division-specific single data sharing and archiving approach applicable to the disparate communities supported through the Division."

  • Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE)

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