Data Management Plans

What is a Data Management Plan?

Beginning January 18, 2011, researchers applying for NSF grants must submit a supplementary Data Management Plan (DMP) of no more than two pages with their grant applications. The Data Management Plan should outline how data will be gathered, preserved, and shared, in accordance with NSF policies.

What is NSF data sharing policy?

The National Science Foundation stipulates that “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 the work under NSF grants.”

What should the Data Management Plan include?

The NSF lays out the requirements for the DMP in their Grant Proposal Guide. The DMP should include information explaining:

  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.
  3. Policies for access and sharing, including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, and other rights or requirements.
  4. Policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives.
  5. Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of and access to them.

Some Directorates, Offices, Divisions, and Programs have specific requirements beyond those outlined above. Please check the NSF website to find out whether your grant proposal will require additional components.

Some questions to consider

  1. What types of data will be produced? How much data, and how often will it be changed or updated? Will versions need to be tracked?
  2. What identifiers will be used for the data? What file formats will be produced, and will special software or tools be required to create or view the data? What metadata standards will be used to organize the data?
  3. Who is responsible for managing and controlling the data? Who owns the data? If private and confidential data is being collected, what provisions are in place to protect that information?
  4. Where will the data be stored? How secure is the data, and what back up procedures exist?
  5. For whom is the data intended? How long must it be retained?
  6. How will you make the necessary data publicly accessible? How do you intend to publish or distribute the data?

What resources are available to help write a Data Management Plan, and to make data publicly available?

If you are not sure how to answer some of the above questions, Dalia Corkrum (509-527-5193), College Librarian, is available to discuss data management.

The Whitman Institutional Repository is available for deposit of some types of digital research data. The IR can help you make data publicly accessible, and help fulfill requirements for long-term preservation and storage.

If you are planning to submit an NSF grant, please contact Rachna Sinnott (509-527-5990) in the Office of Foundation & Corporate Relations at least one month before the due date. She can provide guidance in following College procedures for submitting external grants. In addition, please contact Tana Park, Sponsored Programs Coordinator (509-527-5926), for assitance in submitting your grant via the NSF Fastlane system. While helping you prepare your grant for submission, both Rachna and Tana can direct you to the appropriate resouces for following all requirements for grant compliance, including the Data Management Plan.