Data Management Plans
The National Science Foundation’s Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) instructs applicants to include a two-page supplementary document describing how the proposed project will conform to NSF’s Policy on Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results. This requirement was added in a 2010 revision of the GPG, and applied to proposals submitted after January 17, 2011. Prior to that, grantees were expected to comply with the long-standing data policy, but there was no specific guidance for addressing data management and sharing in grant proposals.
The Data Management Plan (DMP) is now an integral part of an NSF proposal and is reviewed under the intellectual merit or broader impact criterion, or both, as is most appropriate. NSF has provided a FAQ that answers some of the questions you may have about what is required, such as what data is covered, whether a plan is required if a project won’t generate data, and if data has to be shared before analyses on them are completed.
The Grant Proposal Guide provides general guidance, suggesting that plans address:
- the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
- 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);
- policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
- policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
- plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them
To address varying descriptions of data, its standards and its management and use among different scientific communities, NSF directorates and some divisions have released detailed, relevant guidance. Additionally, some program solicitations (RFPs) may contain their own specific requirements.
To determine which guidelines should be used when developing a Data Management Plan:
Review the application guidelines (the NSF Solicitation) for your proposal under the “Proposal Preparation Instructions” section.
If specific guidance for DMPs is included, follow them.
If the application guidelines do not include DMP requirements, review the guidelines of the directorate or division to which your proposal is going to be submitted.
If your proposal will be submitted through one of the listed directorates/division, follow its guidance. (see below)
If you are submitting to an NSF unit or office that has not published specific DMP requirements, refer to the Grant Proposal Guide.
Follow the GPG’s general Data Management Plan guidance. (see below)
If you are unsure what to include in your plan, you may want to contact a program officer to discuss the requirements.
GPG General Guidance
Directorate and Division Level Guidance
- Biological Sciences Directorate-wide guidance
- Computer & Information Sciences & Engineering Directorate-wide guidance
- Education & Human Resources Directorate-wide guidance
- Engineering Directorate-wide guidance
- Geosciences Directorate-wide guidance
- Mathematical and Physical Sciences
- Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate-wide guidance
Templates - DMPTool
To help researchers generate Data Management Plans that meet NSF’s requirements, several institutions have collaborated to create and make available online, a set of templates. Users must register and log in to use DMPTool. By selecting an NSF directorate/division, a user is presented with a targeted series questions to consider for each section of the plan. Plans can be started, saved, edited, and deleted in DMPTool. Once it is complete, it can be exported as plain text or rich text.
The DMPTool currently includes templates for NSF, NIH, the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The developers plan to add more as they become available. Like NSF, other Federal agencies have policies covering the management and sharing of scientific data generated under federally funded awards.
Researchers developing Data Management Plans are encouraged to work with UNC Libraries to develop plans for long-term data storage using Digital UNC. For information and assistance, contact Lisa Blankenship, Digital Projects Librarian, at 351-1521.
Examples of Data Management Plans
- Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences
- National Institutes of Health
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Earth Science
- National Institute of Justice
Framework for Creating a Data Management Plan
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
How to develop a data management and sharing plan
Sarah Jones, Digital Curation Centre (UK)
DMP Self-Assessment Questionnaire
Purdue University Libraries
Data Management and Publishing