The NSF and Sharing of Data

One of the most powerful features of LabArchives is the ability to share information…either within your laboratory, with specific collaborators, or with the entire scientific community.  With the click of the mouse, LabArchives will provide you with a URL that will make any selected data available for viewing.  Thus, the recent guidelines by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are of strong interest to LabArchives users, and to the entire scientific community a well.

In guidelines recently published by the NSF entitled Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results, the NSF is requiring their funded investigators to make their data publicly available.  More specifically, they state the following:

“Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants.”

Furthermore, any NSF grants submitted after January 17, 2011 must include a proposal on how these data are to be shared:

“Beginning January 18, 2011, proposals submitted to NSF must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.”

For those who are using LabArchives, the ability to easily share data is one very simple way that our users may be able to comply with these new rules.  We are also working closely with some archiving sites to make it easy to export these data to 3rd party locations when desired.  Stay tuned for more details.

The NSF  documents explicitly mention that what constitutes an acceptable plan is expected to evolve, as standards, technologies, resources, and community norms change over time.  It is our hope and expectation that LabArchives can help to play a role in this process, which we also believe will be a strong benefit for science as well.

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