United States Department of Agriculture

What is required? 

  • The USDA & NIFA both requires a data management plan (DMP) or data sharing plan with every grant proposal.

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)?

A document that describes which data generated through the course of the proposed research will be shared and preserved and how it will be done. It may explain why data sharing or preservation is not possible or scientifically appropriate, or why the costs of sharing or preservation are incommensurate with the value of doing so.

Data management planning should be an integral part of research planning. Generally, the data management plan will not exceed 2 pages. The plan describes how and where the data will be made available to the public and describes how the data that underlies scientific publications will be available for discovery, retrieval, and analysis. The DMP can include, but is not limited to: 

  • at a minimum, describe how the researcher(s) will provide for long-term preservation of, and access to, the digital scientific data created by the proposed study. 
  • explain in their data management plans why long term preservation and access cannot be justified, if applicable.
    • USDA will reserve the right to review and disallow the researcher’s argument against long-term preservation and access and require conformance to the access policy for digital scientific data as a condition of funding. 

For NIFA-Funded Research, Education, and Extension Projects, the DMP must include:

  • Limited to two pages and does not count toward the page limits for the project narrative 
  • If a project doesn’t include data collection (e.g., a meeting with no proceedings), the DMP document could be limited to the following statement, “No data will be produced.” with clear explanation
  • Clearly articulates how the project director (PD) and co-PDs plan to manage and disseminate data generated by the project. 
  • Includes the following components depending on the type of research, education, and extension activities being conducted.
    • Expected data type
    • Data format
    • Data storage and preservation 
    • Data sharing, protection, and public access
    • Roles and responsibilities

Additional information can be found on the NIFA website.

Regardless of the number of subawards, only one DMP should be submitted for the project and should cover data collected by all collaborators. Some programs may have different standards for DMPs and those will be outlined in the specific request for applications. 

Applicants are encouraged to consider using platforms, catalogs, and workspaces provided by USDA (e.g., the Ag Data Commons), and include adequate funds in the budget to support data management and submission fees as required by the platforms, catalogs, etc. Successful projects should monitor the implementation of the DMP throughout the life of the project and after, as appropriate.

Implementation of the DMP must be a component of annual and final reports to NIFA (REEport) and include progress in data sharing (publications, database, software, curriculum, outreach materials, etc.). The final report should also describe the data that was produced during the award period and the components that will be stored and preserved (including the expected duration) after the award ends. 

The DMP should be compliant with the Research Terms and Conditions that govern NIFA-funded projects. The DMP is not intended to be a replacement for other grant reporting requirements.

Use the DMP Tool, an online tool for creating data management plans, with templates for many funding agencies.

When do I need to share my data? 

Not known at this time.

Where can I deposit my data? 

Most research data generated with USDA funding will be required to be cataloged in the Ag Data Commons under the USDA Public Access Implementation Plan.

Also, 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?

Failure to provide updates in grant reporting may result in withholding or adjustment of funds at the end of each performance period. Failure to deposit data may negatively influence future funding opportunities.

More information


The USDA implemented their plan in 2014 and NIFA in 2019.

Page last updated July 2023