(This post was written by Andrea Denton, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker)
The National Institutes of Health’s role in furthering biomedical discovery through its funded and NIH-based research is unparalleled. Recently, the NIH has focused on not only the production of scientific research, but also the sharing of these discoveries. Its Public Access Policy (enacted in 2008) requires that research papers arising from NIH funding be made available to the public, has resulted in the dissemination of thousands of scientific journal articles, benefiting not only other researchers but also members of the public. The newest action by NIH to further scientific discovery is the release of its Policy for Data Management and Sharing (DMS Policy) last month. NIH leaders realized that while the sharing of research results through an article’s text and figures is impactful, the sharing of the data behind these results could significantly further biomedical research by enabling the validation of results and additional discovery through data re-use and re-interpretation.
What Will It Mean for Researchers?
Beginning in January 2023, the Policy will require that NIH grant applications include a narrative section (maximum two pages) describing the applicant’s plan to manage and share data related to the funded research. Management steps include describing the data (e.g. through documentation like a data dictionary), and indicating what tools, software and/or code is needed to access or interpret those data. Sharing considerations include indicating where to share the data (e.g. an online repository) and any conditions around access and re-use, such as a data use agreement.
NIH recognizes the shift in culture and practice around this policy, hence the two year implementation period. It has provided details on the elements of a data management and sharing plan for guidance, as well as allowable costs that can be written into a grant budget to accomplish the plan.
As we lead up to formal implementation of the policy, researchers can begin to think about the steps around good data management such as file naming, documentation and metadata, and accepted standards around description and file formats that will ultimately become part of a DMS plan for new grant applications. Similarly, strategies for sharing data can be explored, including investigating data repositories.
Fortunately, our Research & Data Services librarians are well-versed in data management and sharing practices, and will be here to help before the policy goes into effect in 2023. We’ll continue to educate ourselves and our grant-seekers on approaches and resources to efficiently create impactful data management and sharing plans, and provide expert guidance when needed.
Do you have questions or would you like to learn more about the Library's Research and Data Services Department? Contact Andrea H. Denton, Research & Data Services Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
NIH Releases New Policy for Data Management and Sharing - Carrie D. Wolinetz, NIH Associate Director for Science Policy
Fostering a Culture of Scientific Data Stewardship – Jerry Sheehan, Deputy Director, National Library of Medicine
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