Physical Samples


Under the NSF research results dissemination and sharing guidelines, the definition of research data includes samples and physical collections. The researcher is responsible for management of physical samples during the research project. Mines is required to archive physical samples if they are needed to verify or reproduce research results or to extend the research in new directions.

Physical Storage

Some departments have physical storage spaces for samples used during student research. Check with your department. If no physical department storage is available, then arrangements may be possible with the Mines Geology museum. The researcher needs to consult with the Museum Director about storage after a project ends and any related budget issues. Ideally, this has been considered before writing a proposal data management plan. The project budget must include the total cost of archival storage including specific equipment and facilities needed for the proposed storage time. Additionally, sample storage requirements that are beyond the present capabilities of existing facilities must include plans needed to develop cost accounting and implement budgeting procedures.

Documentation for Physical Collections and Samples

Create a document that can be on file with proposal that includes the following:

  • A general description of sample type(s), such as polished sections of metallurgical alloys; microscope slides with mounted sections of tissue; concrete samples; ampoules of liquid; etc.
  • A general description of sample size
  • An estimate of the number of samples that will be generated during the study. The estimate will only need to be to the order of magnitude: tens, hundreds, thousands of samples is sufficient
  • Special conditions for storage should be described, such as temperature control, vacuum, isolation, etc.
  • Special security or access issues to samples should be described
  • The time period for archival storage must be specified. In some cases, only an estimate may be possible, but the conditions for extension of archival times should be clearly described