Sponsor Requirements for Preservation
Many federal agencies and other funders expect researchers to share their data after a research project ends, and some journals and societies now require data archiving. Depending on the type of research, various subject domain and funding agency requirements exist for how soon data are expected to be made available and for how long.
Mines recommends that research data should be archived for a minimum of three years after the final project close-out, with original data retained wherever possible. The researcher should review funder/sponsor requirements.
Federal Agency Expectations
Most funding agency data sharing policies ask that data from projects be shared in a timely matter, understanding that what constitutes a "timely matter" will vary from project to project. Many funding agencies allow for embargo periods for political/commercial/patent reasons, as long as they are explained in the Data Management Plan.When retention periods are specified, it is important to understand when the clock starts ticking. OMB Circular A-100 states that the retention period is three years from the date the final financial report is submitted. NIH uses that same language. But the NSF General Grant Conditions states that records must be retained for three years after submission of all required reports. The researcher should check the retention requirements for each sponsor they are involved with. Here are some examples of funding agency data availability and retention periods:
- NSF Engineering Directorate: Accessible for a minimum of three years after the end of the project or public release, whichever comes first. Release “at the earliest reasonable time.”
- NSF Earth Sciences Division: Made openly available no later than two years after data collection
- NSF Ocean Sciences Division: Made openly available no later than two years after data collection
- NOAA: Available no later than two years after data collection
- NIH: Available no later than the acceptance for publication of main findings from final data set