Creating a NIH Data Management and Sharing Plan

NIH requires all applicants planning to generate scientific data to prepare a DMS Plan (DMSP) that describes how the scientific data will be managed and shared. This guide will step you through the six elements identified by the NIH to be included in your plan.

Elements to Include in a Data Management and Sharing Plan 

Using DMPTool to comply with the NIH Data Management and Sharing Plan

WCM has an account with, a web-based service used to generate structured, formatted, data management plans based on pre-defined institutional and funder templates.  This tool will step you through each element required by NIH and will present both institutional guidance developed by WCM and more general guidance developed by the NIH.

For instructions on how to log in and use, view this Knowledge Article.

Sample DMSPs, Templates, and Checklists

Sample DMSPs from the NIH

Sample DMSP from Working Group on NIH DMSP Guidance (annotated)

Blank, fillable DMSP template in Word

DMSP checklist

The NIH is currently piloting a few options for future DMSP templates. If you would like to participate, you can find more information on this here.

Feedback from the initial rounds of DMSP plans can be seen here. This deck is from a presentation that took place on 12/14/2023.


The NIH maintains an exhaustive list of DMSP FAQs. Below are customized FAQs that might be of interest to the WCM community.

What data needs to be made sharable under the NIH Data Management & Sharing Policy?

Under the DMS Policy, researchers are expected to maximize the appropriate sharing of scientific data, which is defined as data commonly accepted in the scientific community as being of sufficient quality to validate and replicate the research findings.

Not all data generated during NIH-supported research will constitute scientific data under the DMS Policy. Specifically, the DMS Policy does not expect researchers to share:

  • Data that are not necessary for or of sufficient quality to validate and replicate the research findings,
  • Laboratory notebooks,
  • Preliminary analyses that are not necessary for or of sufficient quality to validate and replicate the research findings,
  • Completed case report forms,
  • Drafts of scientific papers,
  • Plans for future research,
  • Peer reviews,
  • Communications with colleagues, or
  • Physical objects, such as laboratory specimens

NOTE: This differs from the WCM Data Retention Policy, which calls for retention of additional material.

Adapted from: NIH DMS Plan FAQ

When should data be shared?

Scientific data should be made accessible as soon as possible, and no later than the time of an associated publication or the end of the performance period of the extramural award that generated the data. Specifically, the DMS Policy expects scientific data to be shared by the earlier of two timepoints:

  • The time of an associated publication:  Scientific data underlying peer-reviewed journal articles should be made accessible no later than the date on which the article is first made available in print or electronic format.


  • The end of the performance period: Scientific data underlying findings not disseminated through peer-reviewed journal articles should be shared by the end of the performance period unless the grant enters into a no-cost extension. If a no cost extension is permitted, then the recipient should share the data by the end of the extended performance period. These scientific data may underlie unpublished key findings, developments, and conclusions; or findings documented within preprints, conference proceedings, or book chapters. For example, scientific data underlying null and negative findings are important to share even though these key findings are not always published.  Researchers should be aware that some preprint servers may require the sharing of data upon preprint posting, and repositories storing data may similarly require public release of data upon preprint posting.

Adapted from: NIH DMSP FAQ

How long do I need to share my data?

The NIH places no definitive limit on how long data needs to be shared. However, per the WCM Data Retention Policy data must be retained for a minimum of six years. If data and images are used in a subsequent publication, or cited in a subsequent publication or grant application by faculty, then data must be available for an additional six years

If I don't plan on sharing my data, do I still need to create a DMSP?

Yes, a DMSP must be completed to the best of your ability regardless of whether or not you will be sharing your data.

If my DMSP changes during the course of the project, do I need to get the new version approved?

Yes, the new, revised DMSP will need to be approved by the funding NIH Institute or Center. Reviews of DMSPs occur during the RPPR period and are conducted by NIH staff.

Who assesses DMSPs when they are submitted?

Program staff at the proposed NIH Institute or Center (IC) will assess DMS Plans to ensure the elements of a DMS Plan have been adequately addressed and to assess the reasonableness of those responses. Applications selected for funding will only be funded if the DMS Plan is complete and acceptable.

During peer review, reviewers will not be asked to comment on the DMS Plan nor will they factor the DMS Plan into the Overall Impact score, unless sharing data is integral to the project design and specified in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (see NOT-OD-22-189). 

If data sharing is integral to the project and tied to a scored review criterion in the funding opportunity announcement, program staff will assess the adequacy of the DMS Plan per standard procedure, but peer reviewers will also be able to view the DMS Plan attachment and may factor that information into scores as outlined in the evaluation criteria. 

Adapted from: NIH DMS Plan FAQ

What is the start date of the DMS Policy?

The DMS Policy applies to proposals submitted on or after January 25, 2023.

For contract implementation, the NIH Document Generation System (DGS) language regarding the policy shall be included in all solicitations released as of July 1, 2022, with an original proposal receipt date of January 25, 2023, or after. The Policy will not apply to solicitation amendments that result in proposal receipt extensions resulting in proposal submission to NIH on or after January 25, 2023 or beyond.

The NIH Data Sharing Policy, dated February 26, 2003, will remain applicable to proposals received prior to January 25, 2023, and contracts resulting from those proposals.

Adapted from: NIH DMS Plan FAQ