Member Story: Texas A&M, TDL provide data management support for researchers

Texas A&M logoA growing number of funding agencies require grantees to make their funded research openly available or to plan for managing and preserving data collected in the course of their work. One such requirement, from the National Science Foundation (NSF), requires the submission of a Data Management Plan (or DMP) to supplement any grant proposals. The requirement was announced in the fall of 2010 and affects proposals submitted on or after January 18, 2011.

Since the proposal announcement, Texas A&M University Libraries has been active in efforts to support research faculty at Texas A&M in complying with the policy. Holly Mercer, Head of Digital Services and Scholarly Communication at the Libraries, files this report on their efforts and on the TDL’s role in supporting grant-seekers:

Effective January 18 of this year, the National Science Foundation requires all grant proposals to include a data management plan. This is a change in the implementation of NSF’s long-standing policy that requires grantees to share their data within a reasonable length of time at modest cost. The specifics of the NSF policy are available on the NSF website.

At Texas A&M, the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies tasked a data management plan committee with determining how best to support Principal Investigators (PIs) in complying with the policy. Members of the committee include representatives from the Council of Principal Investigators, research administration offices, information technology, and libraries. Because researchers at Texas A&M have several options for grant management, the committee is focusing on providing consistent information to all PIs.

The Texas A&M University Libraries is currently working to assist investigators with the storage and data sharing portion of data management plans. The Libraries, through its membership in TDL, provides services faculty can use for access to and preservation of their research. PIs can deposit data in the Texas A&M Digital Repository, and if they wish, their data can be archived using TDL’s PresNet service.  These services are not suited for all data.  For example, disciplinary repositories might be a better option for data sharing, and very large datasets might be better managed in other ways.  Still, the data management plan committee was pleased to learn that the infrastructure for data sharing already existed on campus, and that Texas A&M is part of a multi-institution, geographically distributed network for digital preservation.

The University Libraries’ Digital Services & Scholarly Communication unit began blogging (using TDL blogs) about the NSF’s DMP requirement in May 2010, and will continue to report on developments that affect the TAMU community.  Information on the Libraries’ storage and data sharing options for grant PIs is on the scholarly communication site under “Funding Agency Guidelines.”

To help libraries help their faculty comply with the policy, the TDL has developed a resource guide with general information and links to other useful resources, including the Association of Research Libraries’ “Guide for Research Libraries: The NSF Data Sharing Policy.”

Posted in Institutional Repositories, Member Story, Texas Digital Library
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