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Components of a Data Management and Sharing Plan

Investigators need to thoroughly describe their Data Management and Sharing Plans (DMSPs) in two pages or less. Plans should include the following:

  1. Define what kinds of data will be collected for the research and what metadata or documentation will accompany the data. For example, will the lab collect survey data, genomic data, cellular imaging data? What file types will the data be stored in? Will the data be reported as individual observations or aggregated in some way? What instruments will be used for data collection? Be sure to include:
    1. Types and amount of scientific data expected to be generated.
    2. Which scientific data will be preserved and shared and the rationale for sharing or not sharing
    3. Metadata, or other relevant data and associated documentation.
  2. Identify related tools or software or code required in order to view, analyze or interpret the data. For example, will someone need to download some software or code in order to view the data set? What kind of analysis was applied to the data? Will the tools used to view, analyze or interpret the data to be maintained for the duration that the data will be available?
  3. Record any known standards for the collected data or metadata in the respective research area. For example, how is the data typically reported in your respective field? If there are variables defined in the data set, will you include a data dictionary that clearly defines the variables? Does your research use Common Data Elements, or a set of allowable responses to specific questions? Do you anticipate creating persistent identifiers that will help locate the data? If there is no standard for the data being collected in the field, this should be included as well.
  4. Describe a plan for how data collected for the study would be shared.
    1. Data that should be shared includes all scientific data that is generated through projects that are funded in whole or in part by NIH.
      1. Scientific data include: the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as of sufficient quality to validate and replicate research findings, regardless of whether the data are used to support scholarly publications
      2. Scientific data do not include: Data not of sufficient quality to validate or replicate findings OR laboratory notebooks, preliminary analysis, completed case report forms, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, communications with colleagues, or physical objects.
    2. DMSPs should include where the data will be published, including names of repositories, when the data will be shared, how long the data should be available, and if the data will be associated with a persistent identifier.
  5. Identify any restrictions or limitations on sharing data. For example, are there any legal (state, federal or tribal) restrictions to sharing the type of data that you collect. What are these limitations? How will the investigator ensure the security and privacy of the data if there are human research participants? Be sure to include:
    1. Factors affecting subsequent access or reuse of scientific data, for example licensing restrictions on purchased data.
    2. Whether access to scientific data will be controlled
    3. Protections for privacy, rights and confidentiality of human research participants. For more detailed information on human subjects research see our FAQ.
  6. Oversight of Data Management and Sharing.  It is the responsibility of the lead PI on the grant to ensure compliance with the policy. The lead PI can designate one or more individuals to ensure compliance for their group. Here is sample language from one of the NIH sample DMSPs:

    “Data will be submitted by a project data manager from the PI’s project team. The data manager will oversee data collection, analysis, storage, and sharing. Compliance with the plan will be monitored by the PI routinely. The PI will conduct monthly meetings with key study personnel to ensure the timeliness of data entry and will review data to ensure quality of data entry. The PI will ensure data are submitted and shared according to this DMSP”

Templates for DMSPs

The DMPTool, a free tool that helps researchers create data management plans that fulfill the requirements of different funders, including the NIH.

To use the DMPTool for an NIH DMSP:

  • Go to:
  • Login using your UCLA ID
  • Create plan 
  • Select “National Institutes of Health (” for Funder
  • Select “NIH-GEN DMSP (2023)” for “Which DMP template would you like to use?”
  • Use the wizard-style interface to author the DMSP and then download as a PDF

Sample DMSPs can be found in our NIH Resources Links below

References: Supplemental Policy Information “Elements of a Data Management Plan”, Writing a Data Management & Sharing Plan, NIH Forms Finder