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Research Funder Requirements

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) started requiring a Data Management Plan in January 2011. The data management plan (DMP) is a document that is no longer than 2 pages, and must be included in the Special Information and Supplementary Documentation section of grant proposals. Fastlane will not allow the submission of proposals that do not include a DMP.  

The NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (2020) 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." 

The DMP should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.  

A data management plan may include:

  •  the 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 (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies);
  • 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.

Many NSF units have additional or different data management requirements.  First, read the solicitation to see if there are any specific requirements. Second, look at the Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program or other NSF Unit section to see if their are specific guidelines for your discipline.  Third, if there are no additional requirements, follow the general NSF Data Management Plan Requirements section, which is the default for all NSF proposals. 

NSF provides a lot of useful information on their Public Access FAQs page. The Chapter XI - Other Post Award Requirements and Considerations section of the PAPPG includes useful information about copyright, IP, grants not for research, human-subject and animal research, and other topics that may be pertinent for your proposal.  The NSF Grant Proposal Guide (2019) (2020) provides information in 5 areas: Pre-submission Information; Proposal Preparation Instructions; NSF Proposal Processing and Review; Non-Award Decisions and Transactions; and Renewal Proposals.

Be sure to contact your grants administration staff when starting to draft your proposal.  They will be able to help you with the preparation of the documentation necessary to submit a successful proposal. 

The NSF Public Access policy creates a framework for activities to increase public access to scientific publications and digital scientific data. The data management requirement has not changed, but all NSF-funded research projects are now required to deposit peer-reviewed, published journal articles and juried conference papers in the NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR).  More information is available at Public Access to NSF-Funded Research, and in their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Public Access. The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) is a partnership between the NSF, DOE, and the Office of Scientific and Technical Information. 

Do you have any questions or need assistance understanding the NSF requirements? We can help you with selecting an appropriate repository, understanding funder requirements, and drafting and reviewing your data management plan.  Contact us at dmconsult@virginia.edu.