Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results

Any proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation on or after January 18, 2011, must include a supplemental "Data Management Plan" (no more than two pages in length) which demonstrates how the principal investigator of the proposed project will fulfill the NSF’s Data Sharing Policy, as published in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG). CFR has prepared a "Data Management Plan Template" (available for download in the "Related Documents" box to the right) to use in developing a statement which satisfies the requirements of the policy.

The core of the policy is the NSF’s stated expectations that

a. Investigators are expected to promptly prepare and submit for publication, with authorship that accurately reflects the contributions of those involved, all significant findings from work conducted under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to permit and encourage such publication by those actually performing that work, unless a grantee intends to publish or disseminate such findings itself.

and that

b. 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.

Proposals to the NSF can satisfy these expectations by including the supplementary "Data Management Plan" that describes how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. The NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) offers additional information on the form and content of the plan, but in general the plan should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see AAG Chapter VI.D.4), and 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.

In addition to these general guidelines, an NSF Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF unit may require additional efforts to conform to the policy; guidance to this end is available on the "Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results" webpage.  If guidance specific to the program is not available, then the general requirements apply.

Note that the NSF is aware that not all proposed projects will entail complex data management and dissemination:

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. Proposers who feel that the plan cannot fit within the supplement limit of two pages may use part of the 15-page Project Description for additional data management information. Proposers are advised that the Data Management Plan may not be used to circumvent the 15-page Project Description limitation. The Data Management Plan will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, coming under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts or both, as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance.