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Research Data Services: NSF Requirements

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New Guidelines Go Into Effect

New guidelines for researchers submitting grant proposals to the National Science Foundation have gone into effect. The guidelines were announced in March 2015 and apply to all grant proposals submitted after January 25, 2016. Among the most significant changes are that all peer-reviewed articles and conference papers produced with NSF funds will be required to be deposited in an NSF designated repository. Other products such as technical reports, white papers and instructional materials will be included at a later date. Initially, all materials will be need to be deposited in the Department of Energy’s PAGES ( system, with which NSF is partnering. In the future, the NSF will allow deposits to be made in approved third-party repositories as well. Each manuscript will have a minimum set of eight mandatory metadata fields and must be in the PDF/A format. Awardee institutions will be responsible for ensuring that all requirements are met.

Currently, all data produced with NSF funds must be deposited in an open-access repository, which must be designated in the Data Management Plan (DMP) submitted with the proposal. Beginning in FY 2016, with an expected completion in FY 2019, the NSF will develop standards for data repositories and related metadata. A desired outcome of this process will be to have an automated system for submission and verification of compliance of DMPs, and better discoverability for data and publications.

The full text of the new guidelines can be found at:

A summary of the changes can be found at:

NSF's Data Management Requirement

As of January 2011 the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) requires that grant proposals include a supplementary data management plan (DMP) of no more than two pages, which should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.  Basically, the DMP should answer two questions: 1) What data is generated by your project? and 2) What is your plan for managing the data?  In order to answer these questions, the following information should be included in the DMP:

  • Types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  • The standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (hardcopy notbebook, instrument outputs, ASCII, html, jpeg, etc).;
  • 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.


The NSF's data sharing policy states that:

"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. See Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter VI.D.4."

For further information, see NSF's Data Management & Sharing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Requirements for Specific NSF Directorates and Divisions


Some NSF directorates and divisions have specific plan requirements. If a program is not listed as having specific requirements, then the requirements established in the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II.C.2.j apply.

Directorates/divisions with specific requirements for their communities are listed below.  As of July 2011, these are:

  Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO)
      Directorate-wide Guidance

  Education & Human Resources Directorate (EHR)
      Directorate-wide Guidance

Engineering Directorate (ENG)
Directorate-wide Guidance

Geosciences Directorate (GEO)
Ocean Sciences
Earth Sciences
Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences

Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS)
Division of Astronomical Sciences
Division of Chemistry
Division of Materials Research
Division of Mathematical Sciences
Division of Physics

Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE)
Directorate-wide Guidance

Templates and Sample Data Management Plans

Research Data Services can assist you in writing a DMP for any funding agency.  Even if you are not required to complate a DMP, we highly reccomend writing one just for your own use.

Syracuse University is now a partner in the DMP Tool from the California Digital Library.  Researchers at S.U. can create a userid, select Syracuse University as their institution and use the tool to create a DMP for any NSF directorate as well as several other major funding orgaizations.

Here are some other examples and help for writing a DMP: