Tips for the NIH Data Sharing Plan

In January 2023, the NIH implemented a new policy to promote the sharing of scientific data. To assist the HIRN community in interpreting these standards the HIREC developed a new initiative to share a useful related “tip” with investigators each month. 

Tip 1 Online Tools: “DMPTool”

There are multiple online tools available to assist researchers with creating a Data Sharing Plan that complies with the new NIH mandate. One example is “DMPTool”. It is a free open-source tool accessible to all within the scientific community. DMPTool is an online application that guides researchers through the process of creating a plan, utilizing a click-through wizard for creating a Data Management Plan (DMP) that complies with NIH requirements.

Tip 2 Utilizing dkNET to Navigate Data Sharing Mandate

Since the release of the data sharing mandate, dkNET has been actively making resources available to researchers in order to help navigate all the requirements of the mandate. Available through the dkNET website, resources can be found highlighting all available tools and templates addressing the mandate, along with direct web links to multiple YouTube videos and all webinars that have been held on the topic. Additionally, dkNET continues to create new webinar series, intended to help answer questions and assist researchers in creating plans in line with the data sharing mandate. Researchers can also expect to find announcements of office hours held bydkNET to answer any questions regarding the mandate.  Click the HERE to access the dkNET website and view all available resources.

Tip 3 Utilizing Available Templates

Currently, there are many templates available intended as a guide through building a plan that complies with the NIH mandate. The NIH has made available a step-by-step template to help researchers address all the new requirements. The NIH template also provides example answers to each step to show what kind of information should be provided for each portion of the mandate. The same template also is accessible through the DMPTool in the same step-by-step manner.  

Click HERE to access the NIH template and create a Data Management Plan.  

Tip 4 Budgeting for Data Management & Sharing

The NIH data sharing mandate requires data to be accessible and reusable by other researchers. As it is understood that this requirement is likely to incur additional costs, however, researchers are allowed to budget for making their data accessible to other researchers. For that reason, the NIH has stated that researchers may request funds for data management in the budget section of the application. The NIH outlines two categories for funds – allowable costs and unallowable costs. Allowable costs include any funds that may be used for data curation, alternatively, unallowable costs include any funds associated with the routine process of conducting research. Additionally, the NIH asks investigators to justify the funds being requested by explicitly stating the amount of data expected to be shared.  

Click HERE to access the detailed NIH report addressing allowable vs. unallowable costs, and the application process for budgeting.  

Tip 5 Data Management

 The NIH data sharing mandate emphasizes the importance of good data management practices and encourages data management to be reflective of practices within specific research communities. Data management is the process of validating, organizing, protecting, maintaining, and processing scientific data to ensure the accessibility, reliability, and quality of the data for its users. As stated by the NIH, proper data management helps maintain scientific rigor and research integrity. The NIH mandate encourages data management and sharing practices to be consistent with the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data principles. The NIH also requires grantee institutions to keep the data for three years following the closeout of the contract.  

Click HERE to access the detailed NIH report addressing the different requirements of data management, and how to address them in the DMS plan.  

Tip 6 Accessing Scientific Data

The NIH deeply values making research results available to the public. The NIH believes that allowing others to access data enables data reuse, increases transparency, and facilitates reproducibility of research results. It is suggested that researchers make data available in a repository; however, the NIH does not require the use of a particular repository. To bolster data sharing, NIH supports a number of data repositories, which support a wide variety of datasets. The NIH provides a list of repositories for specific types of data, along with repositories that accept all types of data. Selecting a repository is left to the discretion up to the researcher, as long as the data can be accessible to the public.  

Click HERE to access the detailed information regarding data accessibility, along with the list of suggested repositories provided by the NIH.

Tip 7 Protecting Privacy

While the NIH data sharing mandate highlights the importance of publicly available scientific data, it equally highlights the importance of protecting the privacy of human participants. Note that the data sharing plan must adhere with federal regulations for the protection of human research participants. The NIH provides 6 core principles that investigators should keep in mind when developing Data Management and Sharing Plans and carrying out NIH-funded or supported research. The NIH also provides a template to guide researchers and human participants through the informed consent process. The NIH believes that following their best practices highlighted in the mandate will allow for a robust privacy process, while publicly sharing data. 

Click HERE to access the detailed best practices protocol provided by the NIH for effective strategies in order to achieve privacy protection in the context of the DMS Policy.  


For additional detailed information please refer to the NIDDK Information Network (dkNET) website. The dkNET is our partner organization and has up-to-date information on the NIH Data Management and Sharing Mandate. Learn more here



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