NIH Data Sharing Plan Guide: Overview

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About This Guide

This guide is intended to assist researchers, principal investigators, grant administrators, support staff, and other members of the Virginia Tech community who need to prepare a data sharing plan in compliance with NIH requirements.

Getting Started

What Is a Data Sharing Plan?

Data Sharing Plan is a document that specifies your plans for data sharing in order to:

  • Meet funding agency and/or publisher requirements: NIH requires that “Final Research Data should be made as widely and freely available as possible."
  • Enhance the quality of research and transparency: NIH emphasizes that “Data sharing is essential for expedited translation of research results into knowledge, products and procedures to improve human health.”

Is a Data Sharing Plan Similar to a Data Management Plan Required by the NSF and Other Federal Funding Agencies?

Yes, it is similar. It shares the same principle of data sharing and preservation. Data Management Plan (DMP) is a more detailed document that specifies your plans for managing your data for a research project. This includes details such as file naming conventions, metadata standards, storage space, security and back-up. In addition you will understand how you will work with others and share files, and what you will do with the data over the medium or long term.

Why Share Your Data?

In a broader sense, data sharing achieves many important goals for the scientific community, such as...

  • Reinforcing open scientific inquiry;
  • Encouraging diversity of analysis and opinion;
  • Promoting new research, testing of new or alternative hypotheses and methods of analysis;
  • Supporting studies on data collection methods and measurement;
  • Facilitating education of new researchers;
  • Enabling the exploration of topics not envisioned by the initial investigators; and,
  • Permitting the creation of new datasets by combining data from multiple sources.

Related LibGuides

Virginia Tech University Libraries also provide additional guidance and resources for data management with a different focus.

How We Can Help

To ensure that all NIH proposals coming out of Virginia Tech meet the data sharing plan requirements, VT researchers are encouraged to consult with librarians in the University Libraries. Expert guidance on developing data management plans starts by contacting us at

  • Jonathan Petters Ph.D., Data Management Consultant, Data Services Unit
  • Ginny Pannabecker, MA (IRLS), MA, AHIP, Health Sciences Research Support Coordinator; Health, Life Science & Scholarly Communication Librarian

We are happy to answer questions about data management and assist with tailoring data sharing plans for specific research projects which may improve the competitiveness of a proposal. We are willing to provide constructive feedback either through the DMPTool review function or in-person.