NSF Data Management Plan

NSF Data Management Plan

NSF Data Management Plan Requirement Goes Into Effect January 18, 2011

As of January 18, 2011, grant proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation will require a two-page supplemental plan for data management and the sharing of research products. The Office of Research and the University Libraries are partnering to help investigators comply with this new requirement.

The NSF’s policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results states 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 work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing.

Accordingly, any data management plan must describe how the project will conform to this policy 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;
  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.

Given the diversity of disciplinary practice and expectations with regard to data management and sharing, the NSF is not offering uniform directions, specific instructions, templates or other prescriptions.  Rather, NSF is providing FAQs and guidance documents from specific Directorates that address compliance. The entire policy, FAQ list, and links to Directorate information are available at


Please note the following points:

  • Data Management Plans will be evaluated by study sections;
  • Several criteria for compliance will be determined by the community of interest through the process of peer review and program management;
  • Implementation costs for data management plans that exceed routine storage needs should be included in direct costs; rates and costs must be authorized by the University Office of Cost Analysis.  (contact  Jacqueline Watrous at watrous@admin.umass.edu )
  • 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;

If your proposal is due on January 18 but you plan to submit earlier, you must still include a data management plan (January 18 is the Tuesday following Martin Luther King Jr. Day).

The University Libraries are establishing an infrastructure for digital collections and have a history of expertise and experience in the management and description of scholarly material for dissemination, sharing, and preservation. Consequently, the Libraries can facilitate compliance with data management requirements through the following services to investigators:

  1. Guidance in the identification of appropriate data repositories for the archiving of large-scale data sets and associated research outputs, such as the ICPSR or Dryad[1], and assistance with material deposition.
  2. Consultation on metadata and standards for format and content of data, policies for data sharing and accessibility, and plans for long-term access and preservation of data sets.
  3. Provision of a globally accessible and widely indexed online location for faculty’s research outputs, including persistent URLs and searchable metadata, through ScholarWorks, the University's Institutional Repository. ScholarWorks accounts are available to faculty at no charge and with minimal size limitations.

In support of the NSF requirements for data management and sharing plans, the University Libraries and the Office of Research will be working together to formalize and refine these services and to make them broadly available across the campus research community. These services will enable investigators to adequately and competitively comply with this new NSF requirement.

Additional information and services can be found at: http://www.library.umass.edu/data-management

Including a link to a data management plan TOOL

For further information and immediate assistance, please contact:




Mike Malone                                               Jay Schafer

Vice Chancellor for Research                      Director of Libraries

and Engagement


[1] http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/index.jsp; http://datadryad.org/