Last updated:  February 2, 2017

Beginning in January 2011, NSF instituted a requirement that all proposals to describe plans for data management and sharing of data related to the research to be conducted.  This requirement reflects a government-wide emphasis on community access to data, as well as a substantive push toward more open sharing of research data in general.

Proposals must include a document of no more than two pages uploaded under "Data Management Plan" in the supplementary documentation section of the proposal.  The data management plan is reviewed as part of the intellectual merit or broader impacts of the proposal, or both.

What should be included?

According to the NSF's Proposal Award & Policies & Procedures Guide, data 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."

Must all data be shared?

No.  Depending on the research project, sharing of data may be prohibited for reasons related to intellectual property, privacy requirements, export controls, industry engagement, or another concern.  In the Data Management Plan, your goal is to provide detail regarding each of the five items enumerated in the above section, and to justify your plan.

Data Management Plan Tool

Need help writing the Data Management Plan for your proposal? The Data Management Planning Tool walks you through the process of creating, reviewing and sharing data management plans that meet sponsor requirements.  The tool includes references to VT Resources.  Follow the link below and select "Get started!"

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