NIH Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility

You’ve all heard about the reproducibility crisis in science. But you may not be aware of a (relatively) new National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy designed to address the issue. The NIH Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility became effective for proposals received on or after January 25, 2016 and applies to most NIH and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) grant applications. We just learned about the policy ourselves thanks to the combined efforts of UCSD library and research staff to raise awareness on their campus (and here’s a noteworthy mention in a Nature review of 2015 science news). To aid researchers in meeting the new criteria, UCSD produced this handy guide that we (and they) would like to share with the wider community.

The new policy does not involve any changes to data sharing plans. It is related and important enough, however, that we inserted a statement and link in the “NIH-GEN: Generic” template (Please note the Rigor and Reproducibility requirements that involve updates to grant application instructions and review criteria [but not Data Sharing Plans]).

The policy does involve:

  • Revisions to application guide instructions for preparing your research strategy attachment
  • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment (example from UCSD library website)
  • Additional rigor and transparency questions reviewers will be asked to consider when reviewing applications

These policies are all meant to achieve basically the same goals: to promote openness, transparency, reproducibility, access to, and reuse of the results of scientific research. We’re grateful to the folks at UCSD—Dr. Anita Bandrowski, Ho Jung Yoo, and Reid Otsuji—for helping to consolidate the message and for providing some new educational resources.

Existing Data Management Resources Overview

Image Source: LACMA Digital Collection

Have you been wondering whether someone else is thinking about data management, especially as it relates to the DMPTool? The answer is YES. Dan Phipps from UCLA is compiling an overview of data management resources that might provide useful background information. The full list can be found at the DMPTool site, but we’ve put together sampling of resources below. Thirsty for more? Plan to attend a webinar on this topic as part of our DMPTool Webinar Series. Mark your calendar for Tuesday, June 4 at 10 am PT. Details and pre-registration information available here.

University Libguides

Libguides are institution-based reference guides designed to be authored by librarians. There are a number of data management libguides, but we chose to emphasize ones that have different subject specializations. The data management guides hosted by Cal Poly, UCLA, and Georgia Tech each emphasize different aspects of data management, and show how the DMPTool can best be integrated into that lifecycle.

Data Repositories

Data Repositories often provide great overviews on the importance of data management. Many of them also provide guides for their upload requirements that make for effective best practices guides throughout the research and data curation process. Databib is a comprehensive catalog of online research data repositories, and is a great way to get an overview of available receptacles. Repositories are often divided by subject, but the guides at The Dataverse Network, ICPSR, and The UK Data Archive provide an excellent general overview.

Presentations & Training Resources

Visual metaphor for the intended use of these educational materials. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Over time we’re going to be separating this section into resources on data management in general and those specifically about how to get the most out of the DMPTool. These are being included not only for educational purposes, also to provide a template for librarians in a position to do education and outreach within their own institution. Some of these presentations, such as the DataONE Education Modules are provided under a very generous Creative Commons license, allowing them to be remixed and reused. The University of Edinburgh MANTRA Training course is a more thorough explanation of these resources, designed for researchers intending to use digital data.

More resources, with descriptions, are hosted at our Data Management Resources page, and will be subject of a forthcoming webinar. If you feel like there’s another resource type that would be useful to information professionals, feel free to email us at


Library Outreach: Call for DMPTool Guides

Hello, everyone! My name is Dan Phipps. I’m coming to the DMPTool project from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. My academic focus has been on informatics, especially the preservation and curation of disaster data. Aside from digitizing maps for the UCLA Digital Libraries project, I’ve also worked at the UCLA Social Science Data Archive to help researchers better archive their data.

I’m working with California Digital Libraries as part of the IMLS funded Librarian Outreach project. Our focus is going to be specific to librarians and the role they play in the development of data management plans. While this is a relatively new hat for some librarians to wear, there is already a lot of resources from data archivists, repository institutions, grant departments and other librarians. We’re hoping to use the DMPTool as both a data management resource as well as a hub for information specialists to find useful materials.

The management of data is a major undertaking for any institution, and involves support everywhere from IT departments to individual researchers to granting offices and beyond. Librarians, by training, are uniquely suited to work within this environment – it is a field that has been focused on providing people with knowledge and support for centuries. Data management and preservation is a relatively new area of focus, but one which will be more and more important in the coming years.

One of the major goals of the Libraries Outreach project is to provide librarians with easy access to educational materials. Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting Libguides, wikis, webpages, and other useful online resources that have made using or teaching the DMPTool easier. If there are any references you find particularly useful, please email me your suggestions.

-Dan Phipps