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Research Data Sharing and Management

It is Caltech's position that Caltech be free to publish and otherwise disseminate the results of sponsored research performed by faculty, staff, or students. Typically, federal sponsors expect Caltech to publish research results and share data as openly as possible without violation of federal law or regulation (e.g. export control laws) or compromising personal rights (e.g. privacy and intellectual property rights). 

Several issues can arise when trying to address data sharing and management in research and several organizations at Caltech are ready to assist with them. Researchers should feel free to contact the Office of Research Compliance or any of the listed organizations directly for assistance: 

Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have specific policies and proposal requirements for data sharing and/or management which are described below. Researchers receiving funding from these organizations should familiarize themselves with these policies.

National Institutes of Health

NIH has a data sharing policy and it is NIH's position that data sharing promotes many goals of the NIH research endeavor. It is particularly important for unique data that cannot be readily replicated. Data sharing allows scientists to expedite the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve human health.

There are many reasons to share data from NIH-supported studies. Sharing data reinforces open scientific inquiry, encourages diversity of analysis and opinion, promotes new research, makes possible the testing of new or alternative hypotheses and methods of analysis, supports studies on data collection methods and measurement, facilitates the education of new researchers, enables the exploration of topics not envisioned by the initial investigators, and permits the creation of new datasets when data from multiple sources are combined.

In NIH's view, all data should be considered for data sharing. Data should be made as widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding the privacy of participants, and protecting confidential and proprietary data.To facilitate data sharing, investigators submitting a research application requesting $500,000 or more of direct costs in any single year to NIH on or after October 1, 2003 are expected to include a plan for sharing final research data for research purposes, or state why data sharing is not possible.

National Science Foundation

NSF has a data sharing policy wherein investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing. See Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter VI.D.4.

Proposals submitted or due on or after January 18, 2011, must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled "Data Management Plan." This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results. See Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Chapter II.C.2.j for full policy implementation.

Caltech Library Services can support Caltech faculty in developing the Data Management Plan and has developed a Caltech Data Management Plan template for your use. More information can be found at Researchers should contact library staff at or (626) 395-3404 regarding any questions and especially for guidance regarding data types, metadata, rights issues, and managed repositories for archiving data. Inquiries will be referred as appropriate, or directly contact your Subject Librarian.