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.

What are your burning questions about the DMPTool?

We are currently developing content for the new DMPTool site, to be launched early 2014 alongside the DMPTool Version 2. One of the components of the new website is a section of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). We want to be thorough – what questions do you have for us to answer? Comment on this blog, tweet us (@TheDMPTool), or email us ( with your suggestions.

Our current list of questions:

  1. How do I get to the DMPTool?
  2. What’s the purpose of the DMPTool?
  3. What can I do with theDMPTool?
  4. Who can create a data management plan using the DMPTool?
  5. How do I get to the DMPTool?
  6. What’s the purpose of the DMPTool?
  7. What can I do with theDMPTool?
  8. Who can create a data management plan using the DMPTool?
  9. Is use of the DMPTool free?
  10. Who owns the data management plans created with the DMPTool?
  11. Who created the DMPTool? Who owns it?
  12. My institution isn’t a “partner”. How can I make that happen?
  13. What does it mean to be a partner institution?
  14. What are the terms of use for the DMPTool?
  15. What is the privacy policy for the DMPTool?
  16. How do I sign up for the DMPTool?
  17. Can I get a PDF of the help text and resources without logging in?
  18. Where can I read more about funder requirements for DMPs?
  19. Who can help me at my institution?
  20. What does it mean to share my plan publicly?
  21. Are there examples of data management plans somewhere?
  22. I have a collaborator. How can we work on the same plan?
  23. What does it mean to have a plan “reviewed”? Who reviews it?
  24. How long will you save my plans?
  25. What if I move to a new institution?
  26. Will you share my information with anyone?
  27. Has [the funder] endorsed the use of the DMPTool?
  28. Does the DMPTool have the most up-to-date requirements?
  29. I’m a librarian. What are the benefits of becoming a DMPTool partner?
  30. How do I configure the DMPTool to work with Shibboleth?