The National Science Foundation (NSF) expects Investigators to encourage and facilitate the sharing of their “primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants.

These expectations are described in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter XI.D.4

What’s in an NSF Data Management Plan?

Information on the requirement for data management plans is available in PAPPG Chapter II.D.2.i(ii) and the Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results (NSF Data Management Requirements) website.

* NSF Directorates, Divisions, Programs, and other units, and funding announcements for more specific requirements that supersede the PAPPG guidance.

In general, a Data Management Plan for NSF should describe the following:

  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);
    1. for instance, will you use or convert data to open formats?
    2. how will you document the data (e.g., lab notebooks, readme files, data dictionaries, codebooks, commented code)
  3. policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements. For example:
    1. Will you need to de-identify data to protect participants? Will the data be embargoed while you finish your dissertation or publish a manuscript?
  4. policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives;
    1. if you deposit the data in a repository, what license will you use (see the repository)?
  5. plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.