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Directorate for Geosciences--Data Policies

The NSF brings transparency to its long-standing policy on dissemination and sharing of research results through the required inclusion of a data management plan with each project submission:


Plans for the dissemination and sharing of research results will be traceable from the beginning to the end of a project (proposal, review, and annual/final report). The primary goal of this procedural change is to assure that products of research help NSF achieve its mission to promote the progress of science and engineering.

The National Science Board produced a 2005 report on “Long-Lived Digital Data Collections" which recognized that science has become increasingly data-intensive, requiring new kinds of collaborations and techniques. The new requirement that all research proposals include a Data Management Plan effectively implements a recommendation from this report. The NSB report represents one of several influential reports that note that major advances in technology are driving rapid changes in the scale, scope and complexity of science and engineering data collections. These changes can create significant obstacles for communities that strive to make the products of science openly accessible. If access to data and knowledge are to be as broad as possible, cultural and institutional changes must keep pace with technology changes.


The National Science Foundation maintains a website of resources that will help in the preparation of compliant and useful data management plans, including a set of Frequently Asked Questions. Geosciences complements these resources with information specific to geosciences research and programs, including GEO data guidance and community data resources.

NSF: Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results

NSF: Data Management & Sharing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

GEO Divsion Data Policies and Information

Community Feedback

It’s important to recognize that data sharing is evolving, and we do not have all the answers yet. Just like the introduction of the Broader Impacts criteria 1997, we expect some change, some evolution, some creativity, and some individuality as the culture of sharing grows and we become better stewards of Geoscience data.

The NSB acknowledges that issues surrounding data sharing and management are complex. These issues include broad and timely access to data, sustainability of data, cost burdens associated with data management, and openness of data generated with taxpayer dollars, to name a few. An NSB Task Force on Data Policies was established in February 2010 with the charge of further defining the issues and outlining possible options to make the use of data more effective in meeting NSF’s mission. This Task Force will be carefully considering the impact of the new requirement for Data Management Plans.

GEO seeks to add to this dialog with feedback from its community regarding this new requirement. A special email address, geo-DMP-feedback@nsf.gov, is available for providing comment or submitting questions. Please, also contact your program director for questions


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