Funding agencies like National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation require that funded proposals contain plans for data management and dissemination or an explanation that the project will not produce data or samples that require sharing.

While there are requirements specific to the funding agencies, there are eight elements which should be addressed in any data management plan:

  • Data description: a brief description of the information being gathered as well as the nature, scope, and scale of the data generated or collected
  • Access and sharing: how you intend to archive and share your data and why that option was chosen, as well as the time line for sharing the data
  • Metadata: description of the metadata to be provided with generated data and a discussion of standards to be used
  • Intellectual property: the entities and individuals who hold the IP rights to the data and how IP will be protected under the plan
  • Ethic and privacy: a discussion of how informed consent and how privacy of human subjects will be protected
  • Format: explain the formats in which the data will be generated, maintained, and made available, including a justification for the procedural and archival appropriateness of those formats
  • Archiving and preservation: the procedures in place or envisioned for long-term archiving and the preservation of the data, including succession plans for data should the archiving entity go out of existence
  • Storage and back-up: explain the physical, online resources, and facilities that will be used for effective preservation and storage of research data

For more information, please visit the Eugene McDermott Library site.

Sample plans:

Online resources for developing a plan:

UT Dallas references:

Back-up options:

It is critical to keep reliable backups. Your computer, external hard drives, departmental, or university servers are some of the tools available for backing up data. Whatever back-up system you choose, make sure you test it upon the initial setup and then regularly thereafter. Having more than one backup in different locations is recommended. Below is a short list of Cloud storage options. UT Dallas does not endorse any product on the list, nor is this list complete:

For more information:

NSF specific guidelines:

Effective January 18, 2011, all National Science Foundation (NSF) proposals must contain plans for data management and dissemination or an explanation that the project will not produce data or samples that require sharing. Proposals without the information will be returned without review. Proposals for supplementary support to an existing award are not required to include a Data Management Plan (DMP).

The NSF requires that primary data “commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings” be made available at little or no cost to the PI or project. The DMP does not include preliminary analyses including raw data, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues. Data that must be withheld long enough to enable peer review and publication/dissemination or protection of intellectual property is subject to this plan only after those steps have occurred.

The DMP:

  • Is no more than two pages long. If two pages is not enough space, proposers may use part of the 15-page Project Description.
  • Is reviewed as part of the intellectual merit or broader impacts of the proposal or both.
  • Includes:
    • The types of data (physical and digital), samples, physical collections, publications, software and/or models that will be produced during the project
    • Any standards to be used for data and metadata format and content
    • Policies for access and sharing the intellectual property provisions
    • Provisions for reuse, redistribution and the production of derivatives
    • Plans for archiving data and for preservation of access to them
    • Period of data retention

A valid plan may consist of a statement that no detailed plan is needed, as long as the researcher provides clear justification.

The general data management requirements along with plans specific to some Directorates, Offices, or Divisions are available. Note there are program specific guidelines for engineering, geosciences, mathematical/physical sciences, and social, behavioral and economic sciences. If program specific guidelines are not available, the general requirements apply.

An NSF-created Frequently Asked Questions site is available.