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What is Data?

Why is data management important?

Most federal funding agencies now require a Data Management or Data Sharing Plan as part of a proposal submission.  This is a formal document that outlines the type of data you are collecting, standards used to describe the data (metadata), who owns the data and how it can be accessed, considerations needed to protect sensitive information, including study participant confidentiality and intellectual property protection, and how you will ensure the archiving and preservation of the data. Carefully read proposal solicitations and agency guidelines for specific data plan instructions.  Requirements may vary by agency and program.  

In addition to being responsive to federal agency requirements, data management throughout the lifecycle of your research can be beneficial in numerous ways:

  • Save Time
  • Increase research impact
  • Ensure long-term ability to preserve fragile data sets
  • Organize and categorize data for efficient access, analysis, queries, etc.
  • Support sharing and open-access
  • Focus on data sharing as an objective of investigation
  • Support data-intensive discovery across disciplines
  • Promote verification and replication of research analysis and findings

Important considerations for creating a data management plan:

Click on the gray bars below to see detailed information about each topic.

Open Access

In addition to data management plans, in 2013 the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo directing federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. Visit the Open Access page for detailed information and links to federal agency information on open access requirements. 

The NDSU Library provides information to help you understand open access and how open access mandates may affect your research. You can access the tutorial on the library webpage, which includes an open access toolkit.

You can also read this detailed guide on best practices for research data management and sharing.

Funding Agency Guidelines

Federal funding agencies are implementing policies on data management and data sharing in a variety of ways. This page provides a brief summary of policies from major federal funding agencies.

Why the Federal requirement?

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 provides the federal administrative requirements for grants and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals and other non-profit organizations. In 1999 Circular A-110 was updated to provide public access under some circumstances to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Subsequently, a 2013 directive from the Office of Science and Technology directed each Federal agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government. this includes any results published in peer-reviewed scholarly publications that are based on research that directly arises from Federal funds.  

Federal AgencyPolicies and Guidelines
Department of Energy (DOE) 
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Science Foundation (NSF)

Specific program guidance:


Writing an Effective Data Management Plan

The DMP Tool is a free resource that provides data management plan examples by funding agency and allows users to utilize established templates to create plans.  The DMP Tool website also includes information on the latest news in data management and the DMP Tool.  This resource is a service of the University of California Curation Center of the California Digital Library.

DataOne (Data Observation Network for Earth) provides helpful education resources and materials and best practices in data management.  The education resources are licensed as CC0 and may be used for user purposes, such as graduate student training.

Also, be sure to check for any agency-specific guidelines [referenced above]. 

Other things to consider:

Academic Publishing and Author's Rights

For introductory information and support for researchers new to academic publishing, visit the NDSU Library guide to Academic Publishing and Author’s Rights.

Copyright and Fair Use

The NDSU Library provides a basic guide to copyright. Information found here will help you comply with copyright law and avoid non-compliance situations.

You can also access frequently asked questions about copyright infringement on the IT website. 

Copyright and Ethics [Under Construction]

Compliance Considerations (IRB)

Most research that involves human subjects requires approval by NDSU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Visit the NDSU IRB website for more information, and contact the IRB with any questions. If your project requires IRB approval, the informed consent should protect participant confidentiality without unnecessarily restricting future use of the data.

Things NOT to say:

  • “your responses will only be seen by the researcher”
  • “all data collected will be destroyed at the end of the project”
  • “your data will only be shared in aggregate form”

Instead, use language like this (Taken from ICPSR’s Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving):

  • "We will make our best effort to protect your statements and answers, so that no one will be able to connect them with you. These records will remain confidential. Federal or state laws may require us to show information to university or government officials [or sponsors], who are responsible for monitoring the safety of this study. Any personal information that could identify you will be removed or changed before files are shared with other researchers or results are made public."
  • "The information in this study will only be used in ways that will not reveal who you are. You will not be identified in any publication from this study or in any data files shared with other researchers. Your participation in this study is confidential. Federal or state laws may require us to show information to university or government officials [or sponsors], who are responsible for monitoring the safety of this study."

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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 08, 2018 8:37:18 AM
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