National Science Foundation Requirement

Since 2011, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has required Data Management Plans (DMPs) for incoming grant applications. These DMPs are becoming an increasingly important part of NSF grant applications and are thoroughly reviewed. Read the full policy and requirements: Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results.

What is required?

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.

  1. A two-page data management plan (DMP) or data sharing plan is required with the grant proposal
  2. Dataset(s) supporting funded research should be deposited in an appropriate data repository as described in the data management plan

What do I need to submit?

Each project proposal includes a data management plan (DMP). The DMP documents the decision process for preserving data for potential reuse and the cost of recreating the data. The DMP will be reviewed as part of the proposal evaluation process, considered under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts or both (see criteria described in the Grant Proposal Guide III.A.2).

Write an NSF DMP

All proposals must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled "Data Management Plan" with the following sections:

  1. Types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project
  2. Standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies)
  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
  5. Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products and preserving access to them

Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF Unit may provide more specific guidance.

To draft the plan itself, we recommend the DMPTool (log in with HarvardKey) using the appropriate NSF template. Additional guidance for completing each section is available in DMPTool. Find more information on DMPTool.

Maintain Your Plan

Hopefully, your NSF grant application will be accepted, and you’ll be on your way to starting your research project! As you begin your work, you’ll want to periodically revisit your data management plan to ensure that it still fits your needs. Maintaining your DMP will help you adhere to your commitments to the NSF and showcase your ability to manage your data in future grants.

Sample NSF Plans

Where can I get help?

NSF Resources

Harvard Resources