Building on its longstanding commitment to data sharing, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has introduced an updated Policy for Data Management and Sharing, with the goal of expediting “the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve human health” and enhancing public trust in publicly funded research. As the world’s largest public funder of biomedical research, NIH policies have an outsize impact on research practices.
Following the policy, from January 25, 2023, all projects seeking NIH-funding will be required to submit a data management and sharing plan at the application stage and to follow it over the course of the project lifecycle. The policy sets a clear expectation for researchers “to maximize the appropriate sharing of scientific data.” Let’s unpack a few features of “appropriate” data sharing according to the policy, and take a look at how Dryad helps researchers readily comply with the requirements.
- Use of established repositories. The policy “strongly encourages the use of established repositories,” for data sharing. Data hosted on personal or institutional devices or cloud storage accounts is vulnerable to loss or alteration, and may lack the metadata and contextual material needed for its interpretation and reuse.
Dryad has over a decade of experience providing high-quality data publishing, curation, and preservation. All data published with Dryad is open by default, preserved in the CoreTrustSeal-certified Merritt repository, and curated by our expert team to ensure it has appropriate metadata and context for discovery and reuse. As an independent and multidisciplinary repository, Dryad welcomes all researchers, regardless of institutional affiliation, research area, or funding source.
- Timely publication. The policy asks researchers to make data accessible “as soon as possible, and no later than the time of an associated publication, or the end of performance period” and for the length of time they anticipate it being useful for the larger research community and/or the broader public.
Dryad’s team of expert curators works to minimize the delay from submission to publication and can work with authors to time data to go live at the same time as an associated publication. All data published with Dryad are retained indefinitely, mirrored in multiple locations, and routinely curated to ensure bit-level integrity over time.
- Data quality assurance. Data sharing is more than a box to check–it’s a practice intended to enable and promote reuse by other researchers. The policy therefore asserts that, to be compliant, “data should be of sufficient quality to validate and replicate research findings.”
Dryad’s hands-on curation process ensures that data published with us meet this standard. Our team of expert curators reviews each submission with an eye towards metadata quality, usability of files and code, and identification of any sensitive data. Where needed, they correspond with authors to resolve issues and enhance metadata quality. Dryad provides DOIs; permits dataset versioning; and links the dataset with associated research outputs and any software or code needed for replication. Each of these features contributes to a high-quality data publication that is meant to be shared, reused, and built upon.
Dryad’s focus is always on how to make high-quality data publishing as easy as possible for the researcher. By building best practices into our infrastructure and workflows, we ensure that researchers, and the institutions that support them, can trust us to steward their data in compliance with current and future funder policies.
Dryad is grateful to have had the opportunity to offer feedback into the design of this policy and to be helping other generalist repositories to establish common approaches to support NIH-funded researchers as part of the NIH Generalist Repository Ecosystem Initiative (GREI). Learn more.