Data Management and Sharing: NIH Policy Details and Guidance

Akanni CLARKE,
Program Director (Scientific Health Administrator),
Neuroscience Division (DN)

Profile picture of Caroline Sferrazza

Health Specialist, Behavioral and Systemic Neuroscience Branch,
Neuroscience Division (DN)

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

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

We previously described tips and tricks for planning data management and sharing in advance. Now, with the policy implementation deadline fast approaching, 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 to consult related NIH advisories for more information on expected elements of a DMS plan, eligible costsand tips for choosing a data repository.

Data management and resource sharing

The NIH recently launched a scientific data sharing site which includes a tool to answer the question, What policies apply to my search? You can also find good practices in scientific data managementincluding 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 seeking specific guidance on data types and resources relevant to your work. For example, if you plan to develop software tools, you might find this Software and Source Code Sharing FAQs useful. You can also browse NIA-funded resources and repositories, as well as NIH supported data repository lists. We encourage you to leverage your own institutional resources to help develop a meaningful DMS plan, including librarians, repositories, and data curation services.

Data management and sharing: what to expect

The DMS plan must be submitted via eRA Commons as part of the grant application. If the Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) policy also applies, the DMS plan must meet the required elements of the GDS policy (i.e. you will not write a separate genomic data sharing plan). However, separate plans should be written for any other policies (eg, sharing of model organisms, research tools, dissemination of clinical trials) that may apply to your project.

Unless otherwise specified 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 assess how well your DMS plan meets the required elements of the policy, as well as FOA-specific expectations. A solid development of the DMS plan will promote rapid processing and avoid delays during the pre-award phase. If revisions are needed, 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 award notice. We will assess compliance during annual progress reports (at a minimum). Failure to comply may result in the addition of special conditions or termination of the premium. It may also impact future funding decisions for you and/or your institution. Therefore, it is essential to write 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 data sharing and other resources and DMS plan requirements specific to your application, contact your NIA Program Manager or leave a comment below. Stay tuned for future posts in this blog series for tips on shaping your plan.

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