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Data Management Plan (DMP) Guide

Learn how to write a data management plan!

National Institutes of Health

The NIH Data Management and Sharing (DMS) policy went into effect on January 25th, 2023, and applies to grant applications and contract proposals submitted after this date. Two major changes to grant applications and contract proposals will take effect on this date:

  1. The submission of a Data Management and Sharing Plan (DMSP)
    A Data Management and Sharing Plan (DMSP) is a document¹ that outlines how scientific data will be managed and shared. NIH expects researchers to maximize the appropriate sharing of scientific data while acknowledging that certain factors (i.e., legal, ethical, or technical) may affect the extent to which scientific data can be preserved and shared.
  2. Compliance with the plan as approved by the applicable NIH institute, center, or office. 
    For grants and contracts, an approved DMSP will become a Term and Condition of the Notice of Award. If revisions are necessary, the data management and sharing are expected to be updated by researchers and reviewed by the NIH ICO during regular reporting intervals or sooner.

¹ Unlike other agencies, there is no hard page length limit for NIH DMSPs.

Top Things to Know

About the changes in effect as of January 2023

The core requirement of the new policy is the creation of a data management and sharing plan (DMSP)

These plans are documents, about 2 pages length, submitted as part of the proposal application that describe how scientific data will be managed, shared, and preserved throughout the course of the proposed research. Once a proposal is funded, the plan should be kept up to date. Individual institutes, offices, or calls for proposals may have specific requirements. But, in general, a DMSP should include the following six essential elements:

  1. A description of the data to be managed and shared.
  2. Related tools (software and code)
  3. Applicable data standards
  4. How data will be preserved and access will be granted
  5. Factors affecting subsequent access, distribution, and reuse of data
  6. A description of how compliance with the DMSP will be monitored and managed

Researchers will be held to the contents of their plans

Once a proposal is funded, the contents of the DMSP will become part of the terms and conditions of the award. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions may result in enforcement action- including the addition of special terms and conditions, termination of the award, and may affect future funding decisions.

Researchers are expected to "maximize appropriate data sharing"

When writing plans, NIH expects researchers to describe how they will share data to the extent possible while acknowledging any ethical, legal, social, and/or technical factors that limit sharing.

To the extent possible, NIH strongly encourages the use of established data repositories for preserving and sharing scientific data and has provided guidance to help researchers identify the best repositories to preserve and share their data.

NIH will allow researchers to budget for data sharing

NIH recognizes that making data accessible and reusable for other users may incur costs. Under the DMS policy, reasonable costs can be included in budget requests when associated with:

  1. Curating data and developing supporting documentation
  2. Local data management considerations
  3. Preserving and sharing data through established repositories

Multiple sharing policies may apply

The Data Management and Sharing Plan is one of several sharing policies in place for NIH funded research. Make sure to check other relevant policies as well as Institute and Center specific policies before writing your plan. 

Help is available here at Iowa State.

The University Library's Research Data Services unit is here to help you through the process. Email us (datashare AT today with questions or to set up a consultation (in-person, video, or phone). We're here to help.


Have a question not addressed on this page? Contact Research Data Services by emailing datashare AT 

Is there a template? Which template should I use?

The University Library recommends using the NIH template available on DMPTool. This template matches the one NIH has made available and also includes additional guidance, policy links, and examples. Unlike other agencies, NIH DMSPs can be over 2 pages if needed. You may also use tables, and/or DMPTool's Research Output function which will generate a table. You can also request review and feedback from the library in DMPTool! 

Can I reuse the examples found in DMPTool? 

The examples found in DMPTool and on the NIH example plans were written to address specific research and data needs and should not be reused unless they match your research and data needs. Consider contacting the library's Research Data Services Team (datashare AT for help if you're unsure how to proceed, we offer consultations and may be able to provide additional examples.  

Who's responsible for oversight of the data management and sharing plan? 

Per Iowa State University's Research Data Policy, as the steward of the data under their control, Principal investigators are responsible for both the creation, and oversight of their DMSPs. 

Other university units, such as the University Library, may provide researchers with data management and sharing guidance and support, and can be delegated responsibility for actions within written DMSPs. However, these units must be made aware of these potential responsibilities prior to proposal submission to ensure they can meet the delegated responsibilities.

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