NSF Data Management Plan (DMP) Guide: NSF Guidelines

NSF Data Management Requirement

NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Chapter II.C.2.j states that "proposals must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled 'Data Management Plan'". The data management plan is an opportunity for you to articulate how you will conform to the NSF’s policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results:

"Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing"

NSF General Guidelines: Recommended Structure of a Data Management Plan

According to the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Chapter II.C.2.j, a data management plan may include:

  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.

NSF Directorate-level Guidelines

NSF guidelines on the appropriate content for your data management plan may vary depending on which program you are applying to (i.e., Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF unit). If specific guidance is not available, then the general requirement stated in the GPG Chapter II.C.2.j apply. We suggest you first check the requirements laid out in the specific solicitation, if any; then follow the guidelines published by the appropriate NSF directorate and/or division. As of Fall 2014, most NSF Directorates and a few Divisions have created data management requirements:


NSF provides a list of Data Management & Sharing Frequently Asked Questions on the site.