Archive for the ‘Data management plans’ Category

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We encourage individuals and project teams seeking to comply with data management planning mandates to consider Dryad as the destination repository for published data from their research.  Dryad is not only a widely applicable, best-practice solution for research data management, it is also a quick and easy solution!

Research datasets associated with a publication in any biological or biomedical field are welcome in Dryad, regardless of file type. Archived data files may include spreadsheets or other tables, images or maps, alignments, character matrices, etc.

Data files deposited in Dryad are permanently preservedpublicly available with no legal restrictions on re-use, and uniquely identified for attribution.

Data submission is simple, quick, and easy. Data files may be uploaded to Dryad in any file format, with a short README and a few metadata terms.

Finally, using an established best-practice data repository like Dryad facilitates a simple description in a data management plan. For example, grant applicants can use language like this to describe their intention to archive data in Dryad:

We plan to use the Dryad public repository for the long-term preservation and dissemination of data underlying publications from this funded research project. Data submitted to Dryad is made publicly available upon online publication** of the associated article. All data in Dryad is released to the public domain without legal restrictions on reuse, through a Creative Commons Zero waiver. There is a (legally non-binding) expectation of attribution of the Dryad data record and associated article. A one-time data deposit charge is paid by the authors or the associated journals, which allows Dryad data to be available for download without cost to users.

**Researchers may instead choose to stipulate an embargo period of 1 year.

If your funding agency allows it, don’t forget to budget for data preservation (data submission to Dryad is free through 2011).

Data deposited in Dryad can help researchers meet these policies and expectations:

  • the (US) National Science Foundation requires that data management plans include provisions for data archiving and preservation, and access policies and provisions for secondary use
  • the Wellcome Trust “expects all of its funded researchers to maximise the availability of research data with as few restrictions as possible”
  • the (US) National Institutes of Health data sharing policies state that “Data sharing is essential for expedited translation of research results into knowledge, products and procedures to improve human health.”
  • the (UK) Medical Research Council policy on data sharing and preservation states: “Where possible, published results should include links to the associated data. Investigators must show how data will be preserved and their strategies for sharing, e.g. by depositing it in a community database.”

Summaries of funding agencies’ data policies can be found here:

Resources on data management & sharing:

Questions about the role of the Dryad repository in data management planning can be directed to the Dryad team.

Sample data file, Gilbert J and Manica A (2010) Data from: Parental care trade-offs and life history relationships in insects. Dryad Digital Repository. doi:10.5061/dryad.1451

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The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its revised policy on Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results.

Starting January 18, 2011, NSF grant proposals must include a data management plan to describe “how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.”  Data management plans will be reviewed with the grant application by program officers and peers, and implementation (or lack thereof) may influence subsequent award decisions.

The revised Grant Proposal Guide suggests several items for inclusion in a project’s data management plan:  an inventory of research output the project will create, standards applied for describing and storing the data, policies for sharing, provisions for reuse, and plans for preservation.  This is helpful, but very high-level.

Luckily, the NSF and several Directorates have provided supplementary documents with much more detail on expectations of the NSF in general, and individual Directorates in particular.  The Directorate Guidance documents provide a variety of suggestions (and sometimes requirements), including definitions about what is considered “data”, when the data needs to be made available, and what types of sharing or archive locations are appropriate.  As intended, these guidelines differ between Directorates, reflecting a variety of community norms.

Let’s look at expectations for timeliness of data availability, as a specific example.  The general FAQ states, “the expectation is that all data will be made available after a reasonable length of time,” where “what constitutes a reasonable length of time will be determined by the community of interest through the process of peer review and program management.”  The FAQ further suggests that one reasonable standard is to make data accessible immediately upon study publication.  The ENG (Engineering) guidance recommendation mirrors this.  The expectation of the OCE (Ocean Sciences) is different:  data should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than two years after collection, with more stringent requirements for some programs.  Using yet a different milestone, the SES (Social and Economic Sciences) suggests that quantitative social and economic datasets be submitted within one year of the expiration of the grant award.  These concrete expectations will clearly assist investigators writing data management plans, and provide a common ground for reviewers.

In several places, the documents explicitly mention that what constitutes an acceptable plan is expected to evolve, as standards, technologies, resources, and community norms change over time.

Nicely done, NSF.

Note:  The Directorate for Biological Sciences has not issued a guidance as of this writing.

Update: The guidance from the Directorate for Biological Sciences was issued June 15, 2011.

For more information:

January 2011 Policy

Commentary and related documents

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