The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is implementing a new data sharing policy, which will be in effect starting with applications received on January 25, 2023.
All researchers will have to submit a “Data Management and Sharing Plan” for the scientific data related to any of their research funded in whole or in part by the NIH. This includes data that is not used for scholarly publications. It does not include laboratory notebooks.
The plan must describe how scientific data and the corresponding metadata will be managed and shared. The plan will be assessed by the NIH in making funding decisions.
For scientific data based on human participants, researchers still have to consider legal and ethical limitations on data sharing. Plans will need to include protections for privacy and confidentiality. Ideally, this planning should be considered during the informed consent process.
Not only must the researcher submit a plan, they also have to carry it out. Failing to implement a data plan may be taken into account in future funding decisions.
The best way to get a jump start on creating your data plan is to use the DMP Tool. To sign in, use your BC email address, and then you will be directed to the BC login page.
Once logged in, when you create a plan with the NIH as the primary funder, you will have an option to use a template specifically for the new NIH Data Management and Sharing rules.
Please email Elliott Hibbler, Head of Scholarly Communications, if you need assistance in using the DMP Tool or need to talk through organizing your plan.
Data Type: This should be a summary of the types of data and the amount of data generated. Describe which data from a project will be preserved, being mindful of the fact that some data cannot be for legal or ethical reasons. Also list the metadata and other associated documentation, like a protocol or collection instrument.
Related Tools / Software / Code: What specialized tools may be needed to access or use the data, and where they are available
Standards: What standards are applied to the data and the metadata
Data Preservation and Access, with Timelines: The name of the repositories to be used, how it will be findable and identifiable (likely with a persistent unique identifier) and when the data will be made available. This must be by the time of associated publication or the end of the performance period.
Access, Distribution or Reuse Considerations: Describe how informed consent and privacy / confidentiality protections affect access, distribution and reuse of data. Address how access to data derived from human subjects will be controlled.
Oversight of Data Management and Sharing: How will the plan be monitored and managed, and by whom?
For more information, see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-21-014.html.
Selecting a Repository
Researchers will need to select a data repository for their scientific data. If the funding opportunity or program requires a specific repository, that is the one to select. If there is no repository, researchers should prioritize using discipline or data-type specific repositories. NIH maintains a list at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/NIHbmic/domain_specific_repositories.html.
If there is no appropriate repository, researchers should look toward general repositories or institutional repositories, like Dataverse, where Boston College Libraries maintains a small instance.
Data Management and Sharing costs can be included in an NIH budget, as long as the costs are reasonable. These costs can include de-identifying data, preparing metadata, and costs associated with depositing the data in a repository. This does not include costs that are a part of institutional overhead.
For more information, see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-21-015.html.
Note that some NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices have additional information about their specific policies. For the entire list, visit https://sharing.nih.gov/other-sharing-policies/nih-institute-and-center-data-sharing-policies.
Both Boston College's Office of Sponsored Programs and Office of Research Protections can help with questions about the policy. These offices have also created a useful guide for Boston College researchers.