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.

Why Share 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 Data Management & Sharing Policy

Under the Data Management & Sharing (DMS) Policy, NIH requires researchers to prospectively plan for how scientific data will be preserved and shared through submission of a Data Management and Sharing Plan.

Investigators are required to:

Note that ICs may supplement the DMS Policy as appropriate. Be sure to consult your funding opportunity or contact a Program Officer (extramural) or Scientific Director (intramural).

Applicability & Effective Date

The effective date for the DMS Policy is January 25, 2023.

The policy applies to all NIH-supported research that results in the generation of scientific data, regardless of funding mechanism. See Research Covered Under the Data Management & Sharing Policy for more details.

The DMS Policy does not apply to research and other activities that do not generate scientific data, for example: training, infrastructure development, and non-research activities.

Compliance

During a research project’s funding period, compliance with the DMS plan will be determined by the NIH Institute or Center. After the end of the funding period, non-compliance with the DMS plan may be taken into account by NIH for future funding decisions for the recipient institution.

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.