National Science Foundation public access policy - data

NSF requires a two-step process as part of its data policy:

  1. A Data Management Plan (DMP) submitted as part of any funding proposal (to be reviewed and updated as necessary throughout the research cycle)
  2. All data resulting from the research funded by the award, whether or not the data support a publication, should be deposited in an appropriate data repository as explained in the DMP.

What do I need to submit as a part of my funding proposal?

A Data Management Plan (DMP) must be submitted with all research proposals, describing whether and how data generated in the course of the proposed research will be shared and preserved and, at a minimum, describe how data sharing and preservation will enable validation of results, or how results could be validated if data are not shared or preserved. Applies to unclassified and otherwise unrestricted digital research data (i.e. digital data required to validate research findings) produced in whole or in part by NSF-funded research. Research proposals without a DMP will not be considered for funding. This policy takes effect for awards made for proposals or renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2016.

Guidance and data management requirements and plans specific to the directorate, office, division, program, or other NSF unit, see Disseminaton and Sharing of Research Results

Use the Data Management Planning Tool to create your DMP (contains templates and examples).

Do I have the rights?

The Federal Government claims a license to exercise all rights under copyright to (1) obtain, reproduce, publish or otherwise use the data first produced under an award; and (2) authorize others to receive, reproduce, publish, or otherwise use such data for Federal purposes.

Where do I deposit my datasets:

Individual research offices will encourage researchers to deposit data in existing community or institutional repositories or to submit these data to the article publisher as supplemental information. See the UA Library guide to Data Repositories for some suggestions on finding a suitable repository.

When do I need to submit my datasets?

Data in support of published research should be deposited in accordance with the policies of the publication (usually at time of publication). All data resulting from the research funded by the award, whether or not the data support a publication, should be deposited at the appropriate repository as explained in the DMP, within a reasonable amount of time as defined by the NSF unit.

How do I submit? 

Before submitting your data to your chosen repository, you will need to follow several steps.

  • De-identify your data if appropriate
  • Put your data in an open, machine-readable file format such as .csv
  • Document the dataset thoroughly in a separate readme.txt file, and/or create metadata according to the scheme required by your chosen repository
  • Obtain a DOI for the dataset from your chosen repository
  • Follow the upload instructions for your chosen repository

See Data Management Best Practices Primer for help in fleshing out these steps.

Are there any compliance requirements?

The Data Management Plan (DMP) is part of the overall research proposal and, as such, it is expected that researchers will follow, to the best of their ability, the proposed research and associated data management plan. The Investigator is responsible for reporting deposit back to NSF as a condition of the award. During the period of the award, investigators currently report the management of data as part of the annual and final reports. Cognizant Program Officers review and approve the annual and final reports. In instances of non-compliance, NSF can exercise a range of administrative options, including withholding future funding, if warranted.

More Information

NSF's Public Access Plan

UA Libraries' Data Management Resources

Contact: Chris Kollen, Data Curation Librarian