Data management and sharing: NIH policy details and guidance

Data management and sharing: NIH policy details and guidance

Akanni CLARKE,
Program Director (Health Scientist Administrator),
Division of Neuroscience (DN).

Profile photograph of Caroline Sferrazza

Caroline SFERRAZZA,
Health Specialist, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch,
Division of Neuroscience (DN).

The authors thank their colleagues, Benfeard Williams and Grayson Donley, for their ongoing collaboration and contributions to this post.

The Final NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing (DMS Policy) goes into effect Jan. 25, 2023. This new policy applies to all NIH-supported research that results in the generation of scientific data. Grantees will be required to develop a data management and sharing plan (known as a DMS Plan).

We previously outlined tips and tricks to plan ahead for data management and sharing. Now, given the fast-approaching policy implementation deadline, we want to best prepare our grant applicants by providing newly available resources and data-sharing expectations. We encourage applicants to not only read the policy but also review related NIH notices for more information about expected elements of a DMS Plan, allowable costs, and guidance for selecting a data repository.

Data management and sharing resources

NIH recently launched a scientific data sharing website that features a tool to answer the question, Which Policies Apply to My Research? You can also find best practices for scientific data management, including metadata, naming conventions, data storage format, and a DMS Policy FAQ.

You will need to tailor your DMS Plan to your research project, and we suggest looking for specific guidance about the data types and resources that are relevant to your work. For example, if you plan to develop software tools, you may find this FAQ regarding the sharing of software and source code helpful. You can also browse NIA-funded resources and repositories, as well as listings of NIH-supported data repositories. We encourage you to leverage your own institutional resources to help with the development of a meaningful DMS Plan, including librarians, repositories, and data curation services.

Data management and sharing: What to expect

The DMS Plan must be submitted through eRA Commons as a component of the grant application. If the Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy also applies, the DMS Plan must address the required elements of the GDS Policy (i.e., you will not draft a separate Genomic Data Sharing Plan). However, separate plans must be drafted for any other policies (e.g., Model Organism Sharing, Research Tools, Clinical Trials Dissemination) that may apply to your project.

Unless otherwise noted in Section V of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to which you are applying, the DMS Plan will not be evaluated or scored during the peer review process. During the pre-award phase, NIA program staff will evaluate how well your DMS Plan addresses the required elements of the policy, as well as any FOA-specific expectations. Robust development of the DMS Plan will support expedient processing and prevent delays during the pre-award phase. If revisions are required, your program officer will contact you directly. Note that the plan must be approved by program staff before an application can be funded.

Once an application is funded, compliance with the approved DMS Plan will become a term and condition on the Notice of Award. We will assess compliance during yearly progress reports (at a minimum). Failure to comply may result in the addition of special terms and conditions or termination of the award. It could also affect future funding decisions for you and/or your institution. Therefore, it is critical to draft a plan that adheres to the policy and to comply with your DMS Plan if a grant is awarded.

Where to find more answers

To learn more about NIA guidance on sharing data and other resources and DMS Plan requirements specific to your application, contact your NIA program officer or leave a comment below. Stay tuned for future posts in this blog series for tips on formatting your plan.

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