FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: How do I comply with funding agency Data Management Plan requirements?
A: Funding agencies have a variety of policies and requirements regarding the security and integrity of data which constitute products of research on projects for which the agencies supply funding. Examples include the NSF Grant Proposal Guide: Plans for Data Management and the NSF Geological Sciences Directorate (GEO), Division of Earth Sciences Data Sharing Policy.

In particular, the NSF Grant Proposal Guide specifies:

Plans for data management and sharing of the products of research. Proposals must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. This supplement should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see AAG Chapter VI.D.4), and 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 staff emphasize that this is not a new policy but a clarification of long-standing policy. However, the requirement for a supplementary document is new and will be enforced by Fastlane; PIs won't be able to submit a proposal without it.

The requirement is for all proposals, even small proposals for workshops and the like.

“Data Management” is defined rather broadly and “data” can include samples, analyses, data products, software, etc. depending on the expectations of your area.

Curret thought is the program directors are not specifying what they want PIs to say/do because they want peer-reviewers to set the standard. So if a particular discipline has a standard practice (samples are kept for 2 years post-publication, and analyses filed in a shared database, for example), that would be appropriate to mention. Publication of data in one of the many journals that allows on-line data supplements could also be an option.

For a typical research proposal, it may be appropriate to mention, in your data management plan, that the Geology department IT staff provide computer support, best-practice guidelines, and advice, have established and maintain a cybersecurity program, and support a department website. This IT support in the department conveys a significant commitment to data management. Then you might also consider budgeting for some of this, in the form of IT staff time, to help support these activities.

One way for you to think about the data security and integrity issue is:

Are there data you are collecting, and perhaps storing on a computer, or related storage device(s), the loss of which would create a hardship for you, your research group, your funding agency, your lab, your colleagues, your clients, the department, or the University, if the data/computer/storage-device/logs/maps/notebooks/samples/images/analyses/etc. were lost, stolen, or completely destroyed by accident, by design, or in a fire, disaster, or other misadventure?

>Manage Your Data

Managing your data before you begin your research and throughout the research life cycle is essential to ensure usability, preservation, and access. The University of California Curation Center (UC3) website provides suggestions and guidance on these issues and has services available that can help you meet the requirement to develop a data management plan. UC3 is also ready to consult with UC faculty members and researchers as you develop data management plans. Please feel free to contact UC3 for more information.

List of Elements

This link contains a list of elements to consider including in a data management plan, and some generic sample text.

Some common data management and dissemination repositories

Many sub-disciplines have common practices used for making various products of research available for dissemination. Here are some example repositories:

  • EarthChem: A portal to geochemical data: http://www.earthchem.org/

  • Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) participants make expedition data available online at http://www.iodp.org/access-data/

  • MetPetDB - a database for metamorphic petrology: http://metpetdb.rpi.edu/

    MetPetDB is a database for metamorphic petrology that is being designed and built by a global community of metamorphic petrologists in collaboration with computer scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as part of the National Cyberinfrastructure Initiative and supported by the National Science Foundation.

  • Paleoclimate data is commonly contributed to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/data.html

  • PetDB: Petrological and geochemical data for the ocean floor: http://www.petdb.org/

  • Seismology - Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). The IRIS DMC archives and distributes data to support the seismological research community.

  • Seismology - Regional Seismic Data Centers: http://www.iris.edu/data/DCProfiles.htm

  • SESAR - the System for Earth Sample Registration: http://www.geosamples.org/

    SESAR operates the registry that distributes the International Geo Sample Number IGSN. SESAR catalogs and preserves sample metadata profiles, and provides access to the sample catalog via the Global Sample Search.

  • UNAVCO, Inc (Geodetic data, though some is also archived at other data centers). We are a member organization of the UNAVCO Consortium: http://facility.unavco.org/data/data.html

I welcome suggestions and contributions of examples from other sub-disciplines for this web page.

[more to come]