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NIH Data Sharing & Public Access Policies

Guide to the NIH Public Access Policy, submitting peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central, and compliance with the policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What proposals are affected?
A: All grant proposals submitted to the NIH for submission deadlines on or after January 25th, 2023, where the proposal produces scientific data. The Data Management and Sharing Policy does NOT apply to funding related to: Training, Fellowships, certain non-research Career Awards, Construction, Conference grants, Resources, and Research-related Infrastructure programs. 

Q: What is the actual policy?
A: The official policy is listed near the bottom of the policy notice NOT-OD-21-013: The Final NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing. There are several official supplements: Elements of an NIH Data Management and Sharing Plan; Guidance on Selecting a Repository for Data Resulting from NIH-Supported Research; and Changes to harmonize and combine genomic data sharing plans with the DMS Plan.

Q: Should multiple DMS Plans be submitted with each application for funding, including large multi-component awards?
A: No. The DMS Policy expects only one DMS Plan to be submitted with each application and does not require separate plans to be developed for individual projects under that application. In multi-component applications, the DMS Plan must be included in the Overall component.

Q: Which policy should I follow if I am working with an NIH Institute or Center?
A: The data sharing policies of an NIH Institute or Center supersede the DMSP policy that has just come out. Often times, they are more specific. You can find them here: NIH Institute and Center Data Sharing Policies. Individual funding opportunities may specify other requirements or expectations, so be sure to read all instructions carefully.

Q: Where should I share my data?
A: Top priority goes to any repository named in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) or required by the Institute or Center. In the absence of requirements, prioritize a domain-specific repository if one is suited to your Institute, discipline, or data type. If no domain repositories fit, consider an approved generalist repository or our local Dataverse, Texas Data Repository.

Q: When should I share my data?
A: Data must be shared by the associated publication date or by the end of the award period, whichever comes first.

Q: My data includes protected health information. Do I still have to share it?
A: Yes, you can share it (and the NIH expects you to) if you can reasonably de-identify everything in your data and you have informed consent to do so. Most repositories state that they do not accept personally identifiable health information, and that by uploading your data you are certifying that it is appropriately scrubbed. In some cases, you may still want to restrict access to your data only to qualified or vetted researchers. Contact Research Data Services and we can help you navigate next steps.

Q: I am concerned about whether data sharing is allowed by the informed consent forms my research participants signed. How do I find out more about what I am allowed to share?
Contact the IRB (Institutional Review Board) helpline at 512-232-1543 or email to figure out what is and is not allowed in your current informed consent forms. Consider updating your consent forms with this NIH resource on informed consent for Future Use and/or Sharing

Q: My data files are really big. Will a repository accept my data for deposit?
A: Each repository has different file size limits, both per-file and per-user. If you have truly massive datasets (especially common with images or video), contact Research Data Services and we will help you find a solution.

Q: If I submit my data to a repository, can I remove it later?
A: In general, no. If you make a mistake or want to re-upload a new version, you can resubmit your files, but the old files will remain visible as a previous version in order to preserve the scientific record. If you encounter legal or confidentiality issues, you can request that your files be withdrawn from the repository, which usually leaves a metadata-only record that describes the files (in terms of author, title, etc.) that used to be there.

Q: When I submit my data to a repository, am I giving up any rights?
A: In general, no. Anyone who uses your data that they found in a repository should acknowledge/cite/credit you appropriately. Many repositories actually make that easy by issuing DOIs to all data submissions, which are a key element in citing datasets. In some cases, repositories require you to license submitted data with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, essentially putting it in the public domain. This helps enable replication and reuse, and data is generally not protected by copyright anyway. A CC0 license does not exempt anyone from the normal expectations of scholarly credit as mentioned above.

Q: Where can I learn how to write a Data Management and Sharing Plan?
A: For a template to guide you through the DMSP format, you can link to this document from the NIH. Or you can use for a walkthrough of the DMSP document sections. Or, feel free to contact your subject librarian or Research Data Services.

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