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Objective:Cornell University’s Research Data Management Service Group (RDMSG) surveyed NSF principal investigators (PIs) at Cornell in order to understand how well-prepared researchers are to meet the new NSF data management planning requirement, to build our own understanding of the potential impact on campus services, and to identify service gaps.

Methods: We administered a 43-question online survey, which included questions about the respondents’ research and research data, their interest in assistance with the creation of data management plans, and questions for each of the five general areas cited in the NSF’s Grant Proposal Guide (2011) section on data management plans.

Results and Discussion: Respondents produce a wide variety of types and formats of data, although most expect to share relatively small amounts of data. Respondents are generally uncertain as to whether the data they produce conforms to disciplinary standards. The majority create no metadata; of those that do, most do not create metadata according to a particular standard. Most researchers do not express a need for advice regarding intellectual property issues. Researchers report using a variety of strategies (on-campus and commercial) for backing up and for providing access to their data sets.

Conclusions: The overarching finding from our survey is that there is much uncertainty about what the new requirement means and how to meet it, and researchers welcome offers of assistance. To the extent that Cornell researchers are representative of NSF PIs, our findings reveal something about researchers’ readiness to meet the new requirement, and their attitudes towards it.


data management, data policies, data sharing, data management plans

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