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STEM TIG Week: Sam Held on Federal Data Sharing Policies

My name is Sam Held and I am the Data Manager for Science Education Programs at ORAU— Oak Ridge Associated Universities. We are involved with science education and STEM workforce development from K-12 through postgraduate fellowships. I am involved with evaluations done internally (programs we manage) and externally in addition to all data reporting needs.

A recent trend in the STEM fields is the call to share or access research data, especially data collected with federal funding. The result is requirements from the federal agencies for data management plans in grants, but the different agencies have different requirements.  NSF requires a plan for every grant, but NIH only requires plans for grants over $500,000.

The common theme in all policies is “data should be widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding the privacy of participants, and protecting confidential and proprietary data” (NIH’s Statement on Sharing Data 2/26/2003). The call for a data sharing plan forces the PIs, evaluators, and those involved with the proposals to consider what data will be collected, how will it be stored and preserved, and what will be the procedures for sharing or distributing the data within privacy or legal requirements (i.e., HIPAA or IRB requirements). To me – the most important feature here is data formatting. What format will the data be in now and still be accessible or usable in the future or to those who cannot afford expensive software?

Rad Resource: DMPTool – a website from the University of California system for developing Data Management Plans. The best component of this site is their collection of funder requirements, including those for NIH, NSF, NEH, and some private foundations.  This site includes templates for the plans.

Rad Resource: Your local university – many universities have Offices of Research which have templates for these plans as well. For example, see:


Sam Held is a leader in the newly formed STEM Education and Training TIG. Check out our TIG Website for more resources and information.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating STEM Education and Training TIG Week with our colleagues in the STEM Education and Training Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our STEM TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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