New Policy Paves Way to Scientific Discovery in a Data-Rich World

By Paul Cotton, Ph.D., RDN
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Posted Feb. 27, 2024

Insights Into the 2023 NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy

In a significant development for the scientific community, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) unveiled its Data Management and Sharing (DMS) policy. The DMS policy represents a major step forward in promoting transparency, reproducibility, and collaboration within the realm of biomedical research. By emphasizing responsible and efficient sharing of research data, the NIH aims to maximize the impact of its investments and foster scientific discoveries that benefit society at large. This blog post explores the key elements and implications of the NIH's groundbreaking policy.

Enhancing Data Management Practices

The DMS policy places a strong emphasis on robust data management practices throughout the research lifecycle, requiring grant applicants to submit a detailed Data Management and Sharing Plan (DMSP). The DMSP should outline how prospective grantees will handle, store, and share research data generated throughout the duration of NIH-funded projects and beyond. This proactive approach ensures that data management is considered an integral part of the research process from the outset, thereby minimizing the risk of data loss or mismanagement.

Promoting Data Sharing and Accessibility

A Black woman, a White woman and a Black man look at something the man is pointing to on a computer screen

One of the primary objectives of the NIH's DMS policy is to enhance data sharing and accessibility. Under the new guidelines, researchers are expected to make their data widely available to the scientific community, enabling other researchers to validate findings, conduct secondary analyses, and generate new insights. By fostering a culture of data sharing, the NIH aims to accelerate scientific progress, encourage collaborations, and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts.

The new policy facilitates data sharing by encouraging the use of data repositories that comply with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles. FAIR ensures that research data is easily discoverable, accessible to all interested parties, and effectively utilized across different platforms and disciplines. Moreover, the NIH requires that data be shared in a timely manner, allowing other researchers to benefit from and build upon existing knowledge.

Protecting Privacy and Confidentiality

While promoting data sharing, the NIH also recognizes the importance of protecting individual privacy and confidential information. The data management and sharing policy emphasizes the need for researchers to handle sensitive data responsibly and take appropriate measures to safeguard participant privacy. It encourages the use of de-identified data whenever possible, ensuring that personal information remains protected while still enabling valuable research insights.

Training and Compliance

Recognizing the need to support researchers in implementing the new policy, the NIH is committed to providing training, resources, and guidance on data management and sharing practices. Our commitment helps equip researchers with the necessary knowledge and skills to adhere to the policy requirements. Additionally, compliance with the new data management and sharing policy will be monitored as part of the NIH's existing grant oversight and evaluation processes.


The NIH's new Data Management and Sharing Policy marks a significant milestone in advancing scientific collaboration and transparency. By promoting responsible data management and sharing practices, the policy aims to accelerate scientific discoveries, maximize the impact of research investments, and ultimately improve human health. While fostering collaboration and accessibility, it also recognizes the importance of privacy protection and compliance with ethical guidelines.

The NIH's commitment to supporting researchers through training and resources underscores our dedication to facilitating the implementation of this progressive policy. Stay tuned for future posts, where we will explore specific Data Management and Sharing Policy updates, share success stories, and provide valuable insights to help you navigate the evolving landscape of grant funding. Together, let us embark on this journey of clarity and collaboration as we strive to make a lasting impact in the fields of health and research as the scientific community embraces this new era of data sharing, exciting opportunities for breakthroughs and collaborations lie ahead.

Paul Cotton, Ph.D., RDN, is the Director of NIMHD’s Office of Extramural Research Activities. He advises on and manages science policy and program activities related to extramural administrative management, scientific management, and scientific initiatives, and is responsible for the development and implementation of policies for managing research awards and overseeing research training policies, as well as supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion research initiatives.

Categories: Resources for Research & Education
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