NSF Data Management Plans

Background

As of January 18, 2011, all proposals to NSF are required to include a Data Management Plan (DMP) of no more than two pages. This plan is to be included in the Special Information and Supplementary Documentation section of the proposal and is not considered part of the 15-page project description. The DMP supplement should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. Proposals that do not include a DMP will not be accepted for review.

The requirement for Sharing and Dissemination of Research Results is described in the NSF Award and Administration Guide (Chap. VI.D.4).

The required content of the Data Management Plan is described in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (Chap. II.C.2.j).

Importantly, while the data management plan is a blanket requirement across NSF, several directorates and divisions have specific requirements. As always, PIs should consult with NSF program officers if they have questions.

To assist in the preparation of the DMP, NSF has prepared answers to FAQs. The invaluable answers on this web page indicate that what constitutes data, what constitutes reasonable data management and access, when to make data and samples available, the duration of access, etc., should be "determined by the community of interest."

NSF Data Management Plans

As specified in the GPG (Chap. II.C.2.j), a DMP 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.”

Furthermore, a "valid Data Management Plan may include only the statement that no detailed plan is needed, as long as the statement is accompanied by a clear justification."