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NIH Data Management & Sharing (DMS) Policy

Research Data Sharing Defined

The NIH defines data sharing as:

the act of making scientific data available for use by others (e.g., the larger research community, institutions, the broader public),
for example, via an established repository.

The policy discourages the practice of making data available "by request" only.

Data Sharing Essentials

How do I comply with the sharing requirements in the policy?

☑ What: Determine which data from your study meets the NIH definition for scientific data and should be shared.
☑ Where: Research options for repositories. 

☑ When: Data should be shared at whichever event occurs first:

  1. The time of an associated publication, or
  2. The end of the award period
☑ Who/How: Researchers are responsible for understanding and complying with the policy. However, you can budget for help with certain management and sharing activities, such as preparing documentation, de-identifying data, and formatting data for long-term preservation and access.

Does the policy require sharing?

The policy states that sharing should be maximized. Justified exceptions or limitations (e.g. access controls, embargo periods) on sharing are allowed for legal, ethical, and technical reasons. These reasons will be assessed by the funding ICO.

The following are not acceptable reasons to limit sharing under the DMSP:

  • data are considered to be too small
  • data that researchers anticipate will not be widely used
  • data are not thought to have a suitable repository

Why does the new NIH policy promote data sharing?

The DMSP supports NIH's commitment to ensuring the results and outputs of funded research is available to the public. Data sharing helps promote testing of validity; reusing rare or unique data sets; strengthening analysis through combining data; and overall increasing reproducibility and replicability of research.