In 1999 the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 was amended to require Federal awarding agencies to ensure that all data produced under an award will be made available to the public through the procedures established under the Freedom of Information Act'' (FOIA).
This amendment defines research data as "the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings."
The basic level of digital data to be archived and available includes:
- analyzed data, which include digital information that would be published such as digital images, published tables, and tables of the numbers used to make published graphs; and,
- metadata that define how these data were generated, such as descriptions or suitable citations of experiments, apparatuses, raw materials, computational codes, and computer-calculation input conditions.
These data should be published in theses, dissertations, referred journal articles, supplemental data attachments for manuscripts, books and book chapters, and other print or electronic publication formats.
Not included in the basic level per the 1999 OMB statement are "preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues." Raw data fall into "preliminary analyses."
A Data Management Plan is a document that describes what data will be created, what policies apply to the data, who will own and access the data, what data management practices will be used, what facilities and equipment will be required, and who will be responsible for each of these activities.
Major Funding Agency Data Guidelines
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Department of Defense (DOD)
- United States Department of Education (ED)
- Department of Energy (DOE)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMSL)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Service (CSREES) requires all funded research data to be submitted into the public domain without restriction citing that "Pre-publication release of genome sequence data has been of tremendous benefit to the scientific research community and CSREES strives to ensure that such rapid release of sequence data continues.... There should be no restrictions on the use of the genomic sequence data, but the best interests of the community are served when all act responsibly to promote the highest standards of respect for the scientific contributions of others. Investigators are also encouraged to collaborate and make information available via the relevant worldwide web sites." They do make some exceptions to allow for patent applications, but require that the terms of any usage agreements should be stated clearly in the application or revisions prior to funding."
"The purpose of CDC’s data release/sharing policy is to ensure that (1) CDC routinely provides data to its partners for appropriate public health purposes and (2) all data are released and/or shared as soon as feasible without compromising privacy concerns, federal and state confidentiality concerns, proprietary interests, national security interests, or law enforcement activities."
"It is DoD policy under DoD Directive 3200.12 to establish and maintain a coordinated and comprehensive program to document the results and outcome of DoD-sponsored and/or performed research and engineering (R&E) and studies efforts and provide access to those efforts in an effective manner consistent with the DoD mission."
The DOE's office of the Chief Information Officer maintains a list of circulars, policies, and federal regulations related to data and information management. Also, the DOE Standard Research Terms and Conditions limits dissemination of scientific/technical reports if "the report contains patentable material or protected data. In addition, these reports must not contain any limited rights data (proprietary data), classified information, information subject to export control classification, or other information not subject to release." Additionally, the US Global Change Research program of the DOE Office of Science requests that data of potentially broad use in climate change research and assessments should be archived, when possible, in data repositories for subsequent dissemination.
See EPA's data management and sharing policy.
Institute of Education Sciences (IES) requires a data sharing plan. "The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) expressed its commitment to advancing education research through the sharing of scientific data collected through its grant-funded research programs."
IMLS does not have an official data management and sharing policy.
The NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 7120.8 document states the requirement for a data management plan. "The data collected by NASA represent a significant public investment in research. NASA holds these data in a public trust to promote comprehensive, long-term Earth science research. Consequently, NASA developed policy consistent with existing international polices to maximize access to data and to keep user costs as low as possible. These policies apply to all data archived, maintained, distributed or produced by NASA data systems."
NEH does not have an official data management and sharing policy. However, the Office of Digital Humanities of NEH requires data management plans to accompany all grant applications. "You'll note that we have aligned our data management requirements with those of the National Science Foundation to enable you to take advantage of data management resources that your institution may have already developed for applying to the NSF."
For most grants over $500,000, a data sharing plan must be included in application and incorporated as a term and condition of the award. Final Research Data "should be made as widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding the privacy of participants, and protecting confidential and proprietary data." See the NIH policy statement.
The NIJ archives results through its Data Resources Program. “The Data Resources Program (DRP) has promoted the preservation of data collected through NIJ research and evaluation since 1978. DRP strives to increase the transparency of NIJ-funded research by making resulting data publically available for further analyses.”
"The Federal Ocean Data Policy requires that appropriate ocean data and related information collected under federal sponsorship be submitted to and archived by designated national data centers."
Beginning January 18, 2011, a Data Management Plan (DMP) is required for all new NSF proposals. Proposals that do not include the requisite DMP will be stopped from submission. Specific guidance is included in the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide. The policy upholds the existing guidelines advocating open data, "[NSF] expects PIs to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the work."