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Data Management Plans for the Social Sciences

Suggested resources for designing data management plans (DMP) for your research project.

Funding Agency Guidance

National Science Foundation

"SBE is committed to timely and rapid data distribution. However, it recognizes that types of data can vary widely and that acceptable norms also vary by scientific discipline. It is strongly committed, however, to the underlying principle of timely access, and applicants should address how this will be met in their DMP statement."

Data Management for NSF SBE Directorate Proposals and Awards, p. 3.


Please note that these DMP excerpts are copyrighted by their respective authors.

“Data will be maintained on our groups' public server for a minimum of three years after the conclusion of the award or public release, whichever comes later. From experience, we expect this period to extend to eight years.”

The explicit timeframe is a plus here, but storing data on a public or lab server does not constitute a reliable long-term data archiving solution. Please see the Storage & Preservation tab for more information on archiving your data.

Least Developed:
No mention at all of period of data retention


This section asks how long your data will be archived after the conclusion of the award. The NSF recognizes that this will vary by discipline, but you must also take into account any more stringent requirements imposed by the specific solicitation and the PIs' home institutions. Consider who is likely to be interested in using the data and estimate a useful lifespan based on the current pace of research in their field(s). For instance, if methods and instrumentation are evolving rapidly, then your data may not be useful to your own research community after five years, but if the state of the art is relatively stable, you may need to preserve data for much longer.

Questions to Consider

  • Which of the data you plan to generate will have long-term value to others? For how long? (If you plan to generate more than one dataset or type of dataset, the different datasets may need to be archived for different periods of time.)
  • How long will data be kept beyond the life of the project?
  • Which data sets will be archived (preserved for the long term) and made available, and which will not? On what basis will data be selected for preservation and sharing?