Guidance Available for NSF Data Management Plans

Beginning January 18, 2011, proposals submitted to NSF must have a Data Management Plan. This supplementary document can be no longer than two pages, and proposals that do not include this plan will not be reviewed. The plan will not count towards the 15-page limit for proposals. The document must describe how the proposal “will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.”

To guide investigators, NSF provides answers to frequently asked questions, including “What constitutes ‘data’  covered by a Data Management Plan?”  and “Am I required to deposit my data in a public database?”

NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economics Sciences Directorate provides specific guidance for proposals directed at SBE funding. The SBE guidance provides a definition of ‘data,’ but also states: “It is acknowledged that there are many variables governing what constitutes ‘data,’ and each area of science has its own culture regarding data…. The plan should reflect best practices in your area of research, and should be appropriate to the data you generate.” The plan should also address the retention period, data format and dissemination, data storage and preservation of access. Following the award, the execution of the plan will be monitored through the annual and final project reports, and the plan must also be referenced in subsequent proposals. The SBE guidance also states that “more stringent data management requirements may be specified in particular NSF solicitations or result from local policies and best practices at the PI’s home institution” so investigators will need to pay close attention to these requirements as well.

Learn more about the new requirement »