Data Management Plans for the National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires most proposals to include a data management plan, a formal document that outlines what you will do with your data during and after a research project. Many funding agencies, especially federal funding sources, require a data management plan as part of their application processes. Even if you are not seeking funding for your research, documenting a plan for your data is a best practice and will help your data comply with UO's policies and procedures for responsible data management.

A plan for managing data is a living document: Research is all about discovery, and the process of doing research sometimes requires you to shift gears and revise your intended path. Your plan is a living document that you may need to alter as the course of your research changes. Remember, any time your research plans change, you should review your plan to ensure that it still meets your needs.

Elements of a Data Management Plan

The NSF has laid out specific criteria for what should be included in their data management plan documents. Each NSF Directorate and some Divisions provide additional guidance for creating a plan that is appropriately tailored to various disciplines and subdisciplines. You should review specific guidelines for data management planning from the directorate with which you are working.

All data management plans should address the following:

  • Types of data: What is the source of your data? In what formats are your data? Will your data be fixed, or will it change over time? How much data will your project produce?
  • Contextual details (metadata): How will you document and describe your data?
  • Storage, backup, and security: How and where will you store and secure your data? 
  • Provisions for protection/privacy: What privacy and confidentiality issues must you address?
  • Policies for re-use: How may other researchers use your data?
  • Access and sharing: How will you provide access to your data by other researchers? How will others discover your data?
  • Archiving and providing access: What are your plans for preserving the data and providing long-term access?
  • Roles and plan oversight: Who will be responsible for aspects of data management throughout the project, and what resources are required for implementation?

Support from UO Libraries

If you would like assistance completing a DMP for a grant proposal, please reach out to UO Libraries Research Data Management staff to schedule a consultation. They are an excellent source of support to principal investigators needing to manage data.

  • DMP Tool: a subscription-based resource used to create a general data management plan for either NIH or NSF. This tool is a great starting place for developing a plan that can be modified to match specific funder requirements. 
  • Research Data Management Best Practices: a library research guide with a wealth of information on file formats, backup and storage, sharing and archiving data, and other topics.
  • Data Services: Resources and guidelines for data management are constantly changing. If you would like support and advice specific to your field or project, write to library staff to schedule a consultation.
  • Training & Workshops: a list of all UO Library offerings, with links to research-related training & workshops.

Sample NSF Data Management Plans Provided by UO Researchers