NSF emphasizes data sharing policy

Good news from NSF: In the most recent update to the Grant Proposal Guide, they have strengthened and emphasized the requirements for data sharing. Here is the summary from the GPG Summary of Significant Changes page:

Chapter II.C.2.j, Special Information and Supplementary Documentation, contains a clarification of NSF’s long standing data policy. 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. Fastlane will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a Data Management Plan. Cross-references are included in the Project Description section (II.C.2.d), the Results from Prior NSF Support (II.C.2.d(iii)), Proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops (II.D.8), and the Proposal Preparation Checklist (Exhibit II-1). The Data Management Plan will be reviewed as part of the intellectual merit or broader impacts of the proposal or both.

The actual Grant Proposal Guide (section II.C.2.j) contains this text:

Proposals must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. This supplement should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see AAG Chapter VI.D.4), 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 (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; and
  5. plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

The text above refers to Chapter VI.D.4 of the Award and Administration Guide, which includes the following:

b. 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. Privileged or confidential information should be released only in a form that protects the privacy of individuals and subjects involved. General adjustments and, where essential, exceptions to this sharing expectation may be specified by the funding NSF Program or Division/Office for a particular field or discipline to safeguard the rights of individuals and subjects, the validity of results, or the integrity of collections or to accommodate the legitimate interest of investigators. A grantee or investigator also may request a particular adjustment or exception from the cognizant NSF Program Officer.

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