National Science Foundation

What is required? 

The NSF requires a two-step process as part of its data policy:

  1. A two-page data management plan (DMP) or data sharing plan is required with the grant proposal.
  2. Dataset(s) supporting funded research should be deposited in an appropriate data repository as described in the data management plan.

What do I need to submit as part of my proposal?

  • Each project proposal includes a data management plan (DMP). The DMP documents the decision process for preserving data for potential reuse and the cost of recreating the data. 

What is a data management plan (DMP)?

Proposals must include a document of no more than two pages uploaded under “Data Management Plan” in the supplementary documentation section of FastLane. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see Chapter XI.D.4).

A Data Management Plan (DMP) should describe whether and how data generated in the course of the proposed research will be shared and preserved and, at a minimum, describe how data sharing and preservation will enable validation of results, or how results could be validated if data are not shared or preserved. The DMP applies to all digitally formatted scientific data resulting from unclassified research; exceptions are described in Section 3.2.1 of the NSF Public Access Plan.

The DMP will be reviewed as part of the proposal evaluation process, considered under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts or both (see criteria described in the Grant Proposal Guide III.A.2).

Note Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF Unit may provide more specific guidance. If guidance specific to the program is not provided, then the requirements established in PAPPG Chapter II.C.2.j apply, and the DMP may include the following:

  1. The types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  2. the standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies);
  3. policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
  4. policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
  5. plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

When do I need to share my data? 

The NSF requires that data be shared “within a reasonable time.” The time frame for sharing will vary by research community and should be discussed in the DMP.

Where can I deposit my data? 

There is currently no designated NSF repository for data.

Deposit into recognized, accessible, community-accepted repositories is increasingly emphasized, and it is important to consult the Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF Unit for more specific instructions. Whether or not specific guidance is provided, researchers should discuss their plan for preservation of access to data resulting from the project in their DMP.

See our guidance on sharing and archiving data for information about finding a suitable repository.

How do I submit? 

Before submitting your data to your chosen repository, you will need to ensure you’ve completed these steps.

  • De-identify your data if appropriate.
  • Put your data in an open, machine-readable file format such as .csv.
  • Document the dataset thoroughly in a separate readme.txt file, and/or create metadata according to the scheme required by your chosen repository.
  • Obtain a DOI or other permanent identifier for the dataset from your chosen repository.
  • Follow the upload instructions for your chosen repository.

Are there any compliance requirements?

  • Research proposals without a DMP will not be considered for funding.
  • Failure to deposit data may negatively influence future funding opportunities.
  • Failure to provide updates in grant reporting may result in withholding or adjustment of funds at the end of each performance period.

More information


The NSF implemented their Public Access Plan on Jan. 1, 2016.

Page last updated July 2023