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Data Management

Managing your data before you begin your research and throughout the research life cycle is essential to ensure usability, preservation, and access. Many federal agencies and other funders now require that grant awardees include a data management plan with their grant proposals.

NSF Requirements

As of January 18, 2011, all proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) must include a Data Management Plan that describes how the proposal will adhere to the NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections, and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing. See Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter VI.D.4 for more detailed information.

Data management requirements and plans specific to Directorates, 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 provided, then the requirements established in Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II.C.2.j apply.

A Data Management plan 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.

If a Data Management plan is not relevant to the proposed research, a valid plan may state that no detailed plan is needed, provided that clear justification is offered.

NIH Requirements

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 or state why data sharing is not possible. Instructions related to the data sharing policy as it is applied to applications and proposals responding to a specific Request for Application (RFA) or Request for Proposals (RFP) will be described in the specific solicitation.

The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data may wish to describe:

It is expected that the data sharing discussion will be provided primarily in the form of a brief paragraph immediately following the Research Plan Section of the PHS 398 application form, and would not count towards the application page limit. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in Budget and Budget Justification Sections, the Background and Significance Section, or the Human Subjects Section.

For more information about NIH Data Sharing including full policies, data sharing plan examples, and extensive resources, refer to the NIH Data Sharing Policy page.

Other Agency Requirements

See the University of California Curation Center’s Data Management and Sharing Policies page for a summary of federal agency policies related to data management.

Resources

The University of California and several other major research institutions have partnered to develop the DMPTool, a flexible online application to help researchers generate data management plans. The DMPTool is open-source, freely available, and easily configurable to reflect an institution’s local policies and information. Users can view sample plans, preview funder requirements, and view the latest changes to their plans. For further information about this tool, please contact Shari Laster (slaster@ucsb.edu or 893-6073).

The University of California Curation Center provides a data planning checklist with a wealth of useful information related to creating a data management plan. The center is also available to consult with researchers on data management and other digital curation and preservation issues.

The Research Development team can offer guidance on data management plans as they relate to a specific proposal. For more information, scientists and engineers should contact Meredith Murr (ext. 3925 or murr@research.ucsb.edu) and social scientists should contact Barbara Walker (ext. 3576 or walker@research.ucsb.edu).

The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has a Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving: Best Practice Throughout the Data Life Cycle, 4th Edition as well as Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans.

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Updated: May 12, 2016.