Supporting the upcoming NIH data sharing requirements with the DMPTool

Immediately following the new NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing (DMS) announcement, academic medical centers started to contact the DMPTool team with questions about how best to prepare for the pending policy change. These centers faced new and seemingly daunting requirements for managing and sharing biomedical data; fortunately, the DMPTool offers a simplified way of providing access to federal and local guidance regarding data sharing practices and features to connect researchers and data librarians. As a result, new medical centers join the DMPTool community every week. 

The need for the DMPTool arose in 2011, as transformative requirements for data management plans (DMPs) for NSF proposals began to take shape. In light of the upcoming policy changes for NIH research and the DMS plan requirement, we thought it would be helpful to highlight the work the DMPTool community is doing to help address the needs of the NIH research community.

Community supported work

Given that the DMPTool is based out of the University of California, it seemed fitting that we begin work supporting the NIH policy changes in collaboration with data librarians from the UC system. Our group included librarians from UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC San Francisco, and honorary UC, Stanford. The informal Working Group (WG) gathered to develop and share language for a generic NIH template and an FAQ document addressing questions the librarians had fielded thus far regarding the policy. This collaboration resulted in adding sample text language for each of the questions asked by the NIH. There were a few areas where the group found the NIH requirements needed more clear explanations, so as a result, the WG  also developed plain language where necessary.  

Following this work on the generic NIH DMP template, Nina Exner from Virginia Commonwealth University brought up the need for revising templates as guidance comes out of the NIH, and assessing the need for individual templates for specific NIH Centers and Institutes (IC). NIH has stated that while the overarching policy is the “minimum,” “ICs may supplement the DMS Policy as appropriate.” 

Several NIH ICs have released specific requirements on top of the overarching policy, and we expect additional new IC policies as we get closer to January 25, 2023, the effective date. Exner spearheaded a WG of data librarians to analyze IC policies and develop templates for ICs with different or more restrictive DMS policies when necessary.  Some ICs may not require the development of individual templates, and the WG will make this assessment. There are twenty-seven ICs, so composing individual templates for each necessitates this community effort. 

The WG is also using their experience with researcher needs to craft expanded example language for different disciplines. The new policy affects all disciplines, from basic sciences to clinical and biobehavioral, and the WG wants to help researchers see how the new Plan format connects to their disciplines. With this growing need for NIH templates, we also have a growing need for training. To support the increasing number of new medical centers joining the DMPTool, the WG is developing educational materials to support institutions that want to train local researchers on using the DMPTool templates. We are grateful to the NIH DMP Working Group for taking on this work and creating a valuable set of templates for the larger DMPTool community to utilize.

Ongoing work

The DMPTool has been a community-supported tool from inception, and the new NIH requirements highlight the need for ongoing support to keep the DMPTool up to date with policy changes. The WG is now focused on building and updating the NIH DMP templates and will publish them as work is completed. In recent weeks, NIH has announced implementation details for the DMS policy, including an optional DMS format page and harmonized genomic data sharing requirements, as well as the new FORMS-H grant application forms that will incorporate a new DMS plan section. The DMPTool NIH WG is now adding these to the template. 

How to access the templates

The NIH Generic template with community-developed guidance and sample language is available in the DMPTool by logging in and selecting the “NIH-GEN DMSP (Forthcoming 2023) template” from the Create Plan section. 

Screenshot of selecting the NIH-GEN DMSP (Forthcoming 2023) template in the DMPTool

We will continue to blog on our work as it continues and share the individual IC templates as they are published. Please reach out with any feedback, comments, or suggestions!

Members of the initial UC/Stanford Working Group

  • Anna Sackmann, University of California, Berkeley
  • Ariel Deardorff, University of California, San Francisco
  • Erin Foster, University of California, Berkeley
  • John Borghi, Stanford University
  • Wasila Dahdul, University of California, Irvine

Members of the current NIH DMP Working Group

  • Amy Yarnell, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Betsy Gunia, Johns Hopkins University
  • Genevieve Milliken, NNLM National Center for Data Services
  • Jim Martin, University of Arizona
  • Katy Smith, Saint Louis University
  • Lesley Skalla, Duke University Medical Center Library
  • Matt Covey, The Rockefeller University
  • Megan O’Donnell, Iowa State University
  • Megan Potterbusch, George Washington University
  • Melissa Ratajeski, University of Pittsburgh
  • Nina Exner, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Seonyoung Kim, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • Wasila Dahdul, University of California, Irvine
  • Will Dean, Temple University

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