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Revised NSF Grant Proposal Guidelines Requiring Data Management Plans

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a revised version of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG, NSF 11-1) that is effective for proposals submitted on or after January 18, 2011. A summary of all significant changes is posted on NSF’s website at:

The most significant change is in implementation of NSF’s long-standing policy that requires grantees to share their data within a reasonable length of time, so long as the cost is modest.

As of January 18th, all proposals must describe plans for data management and sharing of the products of research, or assert the absence of the need for such plans, in a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. FastLane will no longer permit submission of a proposal that is missing a Data Management Plan, and the Plan will be reviewed by NSF as an integral part of the proposal, coming under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts criteria or both, as appropriate to the scientific community of relevance.

Such plans may address:

  • the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the research
  • the standards to used for data and metadata format and content
  • policies for access and sharing, including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements
  • policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
  • plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

As practices for data management sometimes vary by discipline, individual NSF Directorates, Divisions or Programs may develop specific data management requirements, for reference at: Where no specific guidance exists, the above elements should be considered when preparing a proposal plan. A set of related FAQs is also accessible at this same url. Note that NSF allows as how not all research is expected to generate data or samples; if applicable, the proposal must nevertheless include a supplementary document asserting this.

Collaborative proposals and those including subawardees must include a single, combined Data Management Plan. No plan is required for proposals requesting supplemental support.

For OSP’s distilled version of NSF proposal instructions, see the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide.

Please refer any questions regarding new data management plan requirements to your OSP Projects Officer. If there are any intellectual property rights pertinent to the proposed research, you may also want to confer with the Office of Industrial Liaison.

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