Making a plan for managing data before beginning a research project and then following that plan throughout the research life cycle is essential to ensure usability, preservation, and access to the data. It may also be a funding requirement; many federal agencies and other funders now require grant applicants to include a data management plan with grant proposals. The UCLA Library can help researchers with data management. For an overview of best practices and links to data management services, please see the Library's Data Management Guide.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-110 contains federal administrative requirements for grants and agreements received by institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations. It also reflects circumstances under which public access to research data is required through the Freedom of Information Act. A table summarizing various federal agencies’ data management and sharing policies and requirements is available online.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
The NSF strengthened its data sharing policy as of January 18, 2011, when it began requiring all grant proposals to include a two-page data management plan. Guidelines are available online. Specific NSF directorates, offices, divisions, programs, or other units may impose additional data management requirements.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The NIH has a policy supporting data sharing, which requires researchers applying for $500,000 or more in direct costs in any one year to include a data-sharing plan or state why data sharing is not possible. Further details are available on the NIH Data Sharing Policy and Implementation Guidance Web site.
Data Management Plans
The California Digital Library (CDL), along with other institutions, has launched an online data management planning tool to help guide researchers through the process of creating a plan. The tool helps researchers:
- Generate ready-to-use data management plans required by specific funding agencies
- Get step-by-step instructions and guidance on data management plans
- Find resources and services that can help meet funders' data management plan requirements
UCLA librarians can help researchers with developing a data management plan or using the CDL tool; request a consultation via email.
Researchers can share data by emailing it to requestors or posting it on a Web site, but this can make it difficult to find. Depositing data in an archive facilitates its discovery and preservation.
UC Repositories and Services
- Merritt: repository service that enables UC users to manage, archive, and share digital content including data; can be used for long-term preservation, sharing, or meeting a grant’s data sharing and preservation requirements
- EScholarship: open-access publishing platform containing scholarship, including working papers, peer-reviewed journals, monographic series, paper/seminar series, postprints, and conference proceedings, generated by UC departments, centers, and research units
- EZID: a service for researchers and others to obtain and manage long-term identifiers for digital content including data, which makes digital objects easier to access and verify, thus increasing re-use and citations; UCLA researchers should email requests for EZIDs
Princeton University has created a repository for policy-relevant data on U.S. arts and cultural policy. The California Digital Library has compiled a partial list of data repositories in various disciplines. More complete lists of data repositories are available from Purdue University's Databib and Simmons University.
Privacy and Intellectual Property
When publishing data, researchers must consider their rights and responsibilities regarding confidentiality and intellectual property.
It is vital to maintain the confidentiality of research subjects for ethical reasons and to ensure their continuing participation.
- Comply with UC regulations: Consult the appropriate UC Requirements and Guidance for Conducting Research Involving Human or Animal Subjects.
- Comply with all health research regulations: Federal legislation contains very strict guidelines; consult HIPPA Privacy Rule Information for Researchers.
- Evaluate the data’s sensitivity: Consider whether the data contains direct or indirect identifiers that could be utilized with other public information to identify research participants.
- Obtain informed consent: Several sample agreements are available.
- Restrict use of the data: Control access through embargoes or access/licensing terms and conditions.
- Learn about professional guidelines: The National Academy of Engineering offers an online ethics center that includes a discussion of ethical issues in data management.
Intellectual Property Considerations
- Data cannot be copyrighted. However, a particular expression of data, such as a chart or table in a publication, can be copyrighted.
- Data can be licensed; licensing conditions can be imposed to protect participants’ privacy or limit further uses.
- To promote sharing and unlimited use of data, make it available under a Creative Commons CC0 Declaration.
- Researchers may or may not have the right to share data collected from other sources, depending upon the sources' license terms.
If you are uncertain about your rights to disseminate data you collected, consult with the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research or the UCLA Office of Campus Counsel.
Further Information and Assistance
UCLA librarians can provide assistance with developing data management plans; email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the subject specialist supporting your discipline. The following may also provide information about and assist with other aspects of managing data.
- Office of Contract and Grant Administration: Assists with applying for, receiving, and administering contracts and grants
- Academic Technology Services: Provides academic IT services
- Information Technology Planning Board: Primary governance and oversight body for UCLA's IT strategies; see also “Building UCLA’s Digital Future” (Adobe PDF document)
- Social Science Data Archive: Faculty and graduate student survey research
- Institute for Digital Research and Education: Cooperative of faculty and technologists
- UC Curation Center
- Preparing Data Management Plans for NSF Grant Applications: UC Berkeley Science Libraries
- Data Management and Sharing FAQs: National Science Foundation
- Data Management and Publishing: MIT Libraries
- Scientific Data Consulting: University of Virginia Library
- Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans: University of Michigan Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
- Data Management Plans : Data Conservancy
- Science Commons
- NSF Data Sharing Requirement: Association of Research Libraries