ICPSR FAQs on Data Management Plans

Do I need to pay ICPSR to make data from my NSF grant available?

We encourage prospective NSF grantees to budget money for ICPSR because this funding enables ICPSR to properly curate your data and make it available freely to everyone. Data require special handling to remain useable over time. ICPSR also adds value to data by cataloging the data, checking for undocumented codes, generating additional formats, and more. See ICPSR's curation procedures for a list of the processing steps that data undergo.

It is also possible to submit data to ICPSR with no direct funding for archiving. In this case, ICSPR will curate the data using funds provided by membership dues. The data are then made freely available to faculty, staff, and students at ICPSR's over 700 member institutions around the world (and are available for purchase by others at $500 per dataset).

For details, contact Amy Pienta, ICPSR Director of Acquisitions, at apienta@umich.edu.

Does ICPSR have people who can assist in the preparation of metadata?

Yes, ICPSR data processors convert metadata to DDI format as a routine part of data curation. If the depositor is interested in doing the markup to create DDI files, ICPSR staff can assist in this work. Please contact Sanda Ionescu at sandai@umich.edu.

Can research data be copyrighted?

Research data cannot be copyrighted, although research instruments and databases can be. The argument behind copyright for databases is complicated, but it has to do with the possibility for creative expression in the organization of the database, along with any copyrightable software to run the database. But even when a database is copyrighted, the data in the database remain uncopyrightable.

The principal investigator's university is generally considered to be the holder of the intellectual property rights for the data the PI generates.

Do you have recommendations for intellectual property language for proposals that are collaborative and involve two or more PIs at two or more institutions who will be generating data together?

The PIs should determine together how to assign intellectual property rights and should consult university counsel at their respective institutions on this matter.

Have proposals been rejected because of an unacceptable data management plan? Or do agencies work with the PI to improve a data management plan if they find the proposal worth funding?

Since the NSF data management plan requirement is relatively new, we cannot be sure how it will be applied. According to the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, "The data management plan will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, coming under Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts or both, as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance."

This implies that the quality of the data management plan will affect the success of a proposal. ICPSR believes that an effective data management plan enhances the value of a research project.

How do data management plans relate to institutional statements of capabilities?

The data management plan should not be a statement of institutional capabilities. Data management plans typically focus on the data management process. You may wish to consult a program officer for specific information about NSF's requirements.

How much time is needed prior to proposal submission to obtain a letter of support from ICPSR?

ICPSR requests that researchers contact us at least a month before the grant application deadline.

Is there a list of generic data formats for those data types that are non-ASCII, i.e., images and sounds, etc.?

You may want to consult a file format registry like PRONOM.

Is videotaped data included as part of the data-sharing requirement? How do you protect the confidentiality of your participants?

ICPSR and other repositories accept video data for archiving. Typically, video data are protected by limiting the conditions for accessing the data. One way that ICPSR controls access to confidential data is by requiring that prospective data users complete a restricted-use data agreement, which is a contractual agreement between ICPSR and the principal investigators and their organizations specifying the terms of use of the data.

Should a researcher obtain permission from a data archive before naming it in a data management plan?

It is good practice to notify the designated repository of your intention to deposit data. The repository will want to determine whether the data fit within the substantive scope of its collection development policies. If the data are determined to be appropriate for the repository, you can request a letter to submit with the data management plan as part of a grant application.

The generic examples that ICPSR provides are great, but they are boilerplate. Would that be a problem during agency review?

We hope that the examples we provide will inform researchers about best practices and help researchers formulate a plan for how best to preserve and share their research data. Researchers should feel free to customize the ICPSR examples to fit their specific needs.

What if the data I use come from a confidential source?

ICPSR uses a variety of measures to protect the confidentiality of survey respondents. When possible, data are anonymized, but data that cannot be anonymized without losing their scientific value are available under restricted-use data agreements.

Which of your data management plan examples are for NSF and which are for NIH?

ICPSR has sought to make best practice recommendations for creating a data management plan. In reviewing the NSF and NIH guidance, we have found that ICPSR's analysis of the elements of a data management plans meets both NSF and NIH recommendations.

The DMP Tool contains a list of DMP elements for many funding agencies as well.

Will NIH and NSF allow investigators to request funds to pay for data archiving ? assistance in preparing data for archiving in the final year of a grant?

Yes, it is possible to request funds for archiving. To determine the appropriate costs to archive data with ICPSR, please contact Amy Pienta, ICPSR Director of Acquisitions, at apienta@umich.edu.

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