Data Management & Sharing Policy Overview

Learn what is expected of investigators and institutions under the 2003 NIH Data Sharing Policy and the 2023 NIH Data Management & Sharing Policy.

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Benefits of Sharing Data

Sharing scientific data accelerates biomedical research discovery, enhances research rigor and reproducibility, provides accessibility to high-value datasets, and promotes data reuse for future research studies. Ultimately, the sharing of scientific data expedites the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve human health.

Expectations Under NIH’s 2003 Data Sharing Policy

NIH expects that data be made as widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding the privacy of participants and protecting confidential and proprietary data. Sharing is particularly important for unique data that cannot be readily replicated.

Under NIH's 2003 Data Sharing Policy, investigators are expected to:

  • Include a data sharing plan in research proposals seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs describing how final research data will be shared. Alternatively, the investigator is expected to explain why data sharing is not possible.
  • Release and share the data, as described in the approved application, no later than the acceptance for publication of the main findings from the final dataset.
  • Report any progress made on data sharing progress in the annual submission of their Research Progress Performance Report (RPPR)

Given the breadth and variety of science that NIH supports, the NIH Data Sharing Policy does not require specific ways of documenting, formatting, presenting, or transporting data. 

In their data sharing plans, applicants should propose the most appropriate means for sharing data according to the specifications of their research project and area of science, in compliance with policies and regulations governing research awards. Learn about methods for managing data and sharing data.

Applicability

The 2003 Data Sharing Policy applies to final research data generated from grants, cooperative agreements, intramural research, contracts, or other funding agreements of $500,000 or more per year.  See Research Covered Under the Data Management & Sharing Policies for more details.

Effective Dates

NIH’s 2003 Data Sharing Policy came into effect on October 1, 2003 and will end on January 25, 2023. 

The policy will remain in effect for applications submitted before January 25, 2023. Note that competitive renewals occurring after January 25th, 2023 for previously funded awards will be subject to the 2023 Data Management & Sharing (DMS) policy.

Complying with the Policy

When a Principal Investigator and their authorized institutional official sign the face page of an NIH application, they are assuring compliance with policies and regulations governing research awards. NIH expects grantees to follow these rules and to conduct the work described in the application. Thus, if an application describes a data sharing plan, NIH expects that plan to be enacted.

If progress has been made with the data sharing plan, then the grantee should note this in the progress report. In the final progress report, if not sooner, the grantee should note what steps have been taken with respect to the data sharing plan.

In the case of noncompliance, NIH can take various actions. For example, NIH may make data sharing an explicit term and condition of subsequent awards.

Generating large-scale genomic data? NIH’s Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) policy may also apply to your research. See our GDS Policy Overview to learn more.

NIH has issued the Data Management and Sharing (DMS) policy (effective January 25, 2023) to promote the sharing of scientific data. Sharing scientific data accelerates biomedical research discovery, in part, by enabling validation of research results, providing accessibility to high-value datasets, and promoting data reuse for future research studies.

Under the DMS policy, NIH expects that investigators and institutions:

  • Plan and budget for the managing and sharing of data
  • Submit a DMS plan for review when applying for funding
  • Comply with the approved DMS plan

Individual NIH Institutes, Centers, or Offices may have additional policies and expectations (see NIH Institute and Center Data Sharing Policies).

Select each step below to learn more.


Planning & Budgeting for Data Management & Sharing

Prospectively planning for how scientific data will be managed and ultimately shared is a crucial first step in optimizing the reach of data generated from NIH-funded research. Investigators and institutions are encouraged to consider these crucial elements early in research planning.

Tip: Consider consulting institutional resources such as librarians and data managers to help plan effectively!
Determine if your proposed research is subject to the DMS policy.
Identify appropriate methods/approaches and repositories for managing and sharing scientific data.
Develop a Plan for managing and sharing scientific data and submit this Plan within the funding application or proposal.
* Note that applications subject to both the DMS Policy and the GDS Policy will submit a single Plan.
Estimate and request funds for data management and sharing activities if not already covered by institution or other sources.

Submission & Review of DMS plans

Applicants planning to generate scientific data will submit DMS Plans to NIH as part of the funding application or proposal. Note that plans are NOT part of scored peer review criteria unless specifically noted in the Funding Opportunity Announcement. NIH Program Staff oversee reviewing and approving Plans prior to award.

Submit DMS Plans and budget requests as part of the funding application or proposal.
Peer Review will not see or review DMS Plans, but will consider any related budget items.
NIH program staff will review the DMS Plan for acceptability and may request modifications prior to award as appropriate.
Plans must be approved by the funding institute prior to award.

Implementing DMS Plans

Awardees are expected to carry out data management and sharing as outlined in approved plans and as a term and condition of award.

Manage and share data as described in the approved DMS Plan.
Provide updates on data management and sharing activities in annual progress reports.
If plans change over the course of the project, work proactively with NIH Program Officer to obtain review and approval of modifications.