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Research Data Management: NSF

Generic NSF Data Management Plan Elements

(adapted from California Digital Library DMPTool)

1. Types of data produced

Provide a brief description of the data being collected.  

Consider these questions:

  • What data will be generated in the research?
  • What data types will you be creating or capturing?
  • How will you capture or create the data?
  • If you will be using existing data, state that fact and include where you got it.
  • What is the relationship between the data you are collecting and the existing data?

Also note here if the data will be of a sensitive nature (confidentiality, privacy or security issues for example).

2.  Data and metadata standards

Explain how you will describe your data in a way so that others can make use of it.  Describe the file structure, the variables, etc.

Consider the following when contemplating your data:

  • Which file formats will you use for your data, and why?
  • What form will the metadata describing/documenting your data take?
  • What contextual details (metadata) are needed to make the data you capture or collect meaningful?
  • How will you create or capture these details?
  • Which metadata standards will you use and why have you chosen them? (e.g. accepted domain-local standards, widespread usage)

3.  Policies for access and sharing

Describe how and when your data will be made available once your project is completed.

Consider these questions:

  • How will you make the data available? (Include resources needed to make the data available: equipment, systems, expertise, etc.)
  • When will you make the data available?
  • What is the process for gaining access to the data?
  • Will access be chargeable?
  • How long will the original data collector/creator/principal investigator retain the right to use the data before making them available for wider distribution?
  • Do you need embargo periods for political/commercial/patent reasons? If so, give details.
  • Are there ethical and privacy issues? If so, how will these be resolved?
  • Can you demonstrate your compliance with IRB Protocol?
  • Who will hold the intellectual property rights to the data and how might this affect data access? (Consider benefits of creating permanent identifiers for easy citation of datasets.)

4.  Policies for re-use, redistribution

Identify your plans for allowing for reuse of your data.  If you plan to restrict access, reuse or redistribution, explain how you will communicate those restrictions.

Consider these questions:

  • Will any permission restrictions need to be placed on the data?
  • Which bodies/groups are likely to be interested in the data?
  • What and who are the intended or foreseeable uses / users of the data?

5.  Plans for archiving & preservation

This is where you layout your plans for the long-term storage and preservation of your data.

Consider these questions:

  • What is the long-term strategy for maintaining, curating and archiving the data?
  • Which archive/repository/database have you identified as a place to deposit data?
  • What procedures does your intended long-term data storage facility have in place for preservation and backup?
  • How long will/should data be kept beyond the life of the project?
  • What data will be preserved for the long-term?
  • What transformations will be necessary to prepare data for preservation/data sharing?
  • What metadata/documentation will be submitted alongside the data or created on deposit/ transformation in order to make the data reusable?
  • What related information will be deposited?

NSF Funding Requirements & Information

The National Science Foundation began requiring data management plans as of January 18th, 2011.  Plans are to take the form of a two-page supplementary document.  The data sharing policy for the foundation is linked below with specific directorate guidelines under that.  We've provided basic guidance for the generic NSF data management plan in the box to the left.  University of Virginia has developed templates for NSF proposals including some for most of the directorates and they are linked below.  UC San Diego has made some examples of DMPs available and they are linked next to the appropriate directorate below.  Please remember these are project specific and are only here for guidance.

NSF Directorate Guidance

More Examples & Templates

Presentations & Webinars