Biological Sciences Guidance on Data Management Plans

On October 1st, 2015, BIO made available an updated version of “Biological Sciences Guidance on Data Management Plans.”

A Data Management Plan (DMP) must be included with a full proposal and should describe how a project will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see NSF 15-1 and NSF 16-1). The DMP is evaluated as part of the Merit Review process, either under the Intellectual Merit or the Broader Impacts criterion, or both, as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance. BIO anticipates differences in data management practices across the many research communities we support and recognizes that not all data are appropriate for post-project dissemination or preservation.

Generally, the DMP addresses two different aspects of the research process:

  • data handling during the project (which concerns robust and reliable research), and
  • preparation of data (software/materials/etc.) for dissemination or deposit for future access.

In brief, a DMP should include:

  • the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  • standards to be used to contain and describe those data and materials, including (data) format and metadata standard;
  • policies that pertain to sharing and access, including where appropriate, consideration of
    • appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements; and
    • allowances or restrictions on re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives;
  • plans for depositing or archiving data, samples, and other research products to preserve access to them.

In response to consultations with the scientific community and BIO’s Program Officers about data management, this updated BIO Guidance on DMPs is intended to clarify several required components identified in NSF policy. Please note that program-level data management requirements may be more specific or extensive than the BIO Guidance on DMPs, and you are advised to contact a BIO Program Officer if you have any questions related to a DMP in the program context.

Future blog posts will address BIOData as well as changes in the newly released version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG; NSF 16-1); the new PAPPG is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016.

NSF Broader Impacts

Last updated: 4/20/2016

Are you looking for information about the Broader Impacts Merit Review criterion? Not sure what qualifies as a Broader Impacts activity? Check out these resources and then take a quiz to test your Broader Impacts smarts!

Here’s where to find information about Broader Impacts from NSF:

The NSF Office of Integrative Activities Broader Impacts web page:

Office of Integrative Activities web page

Scroll down on the OIA page and you’ll see a list of related web pages:

OIA web page related links

The Broader Impacts Perspectives brochure can be downloaded as a .pdf. The brochure includes highlights from the Broader Impacts Infrastructure Summit and examples of Broader Impacts activities.

Cover of brochure

If you are planning to submit a proposal to NSF, be sure to follow the instructions in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The GPG is part of the current NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPP), publication number NSF 16-001 (aka 16-1) dated January 25, 2016: (Significant changes and clarifications from the previous guide can be found here:

The GPG includes important information about the Broader Impacts and Intellectual Merit Merit Review criteria in a few different places: the Project Summary section (IIC2b), the Project Description section (IIC2di), and the Merit Review Principles and Criteria section (IIIA).

Screen shot of the Grant Proposal Guide web page.
The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) is part of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPP).


Review the resources above and come back and take our Broader Impacts quiz!

(Click all images to enlarge.)

True or false, your research itself must fulfill the broader impacts review criterion








Remember to share your stories about Broader Impacts activities with your Program Officer and via email to broaderimpacts[at]

Related documents and resources:

NSF-funded National Alliance for Broader Impacts (supported by awards MCB-1408736, MCB-1313197, and IIA-1437105)

NSF Broadening Participation Portfolio:

NSB-2015-14: Report to the National Science Board on the National Science Foundation’s Merit Review Process FY 2014 (May, 2015)

NSB-2015-19: National Science Board Resolution on NSF and the National Interest (May 6, 2015)

NSF Important Notice No. 137 (IN-137): New Steps to Enhance Transparency and Accountability at the National Science Foundation (Jan 13, 2015)

Press Release (14-163): National Science Foundation updates transparency and accountability practices (Dec 3, 2014)


Research at the Interface of Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (BioMaPS)

by Dr. Jim Olds, BIO AD

As transdisciplinary research becomes more mainstream, the National Science Foundation has supported this trend by creating new programs and unique funding streams to support collaborations and individual research that gets at the “sticky edges” between disciplines.

BioMaPS, or Research at the Interface of Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, is an example of how a cross-Directorate initiative (involving BIO and the Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and Engineering (ENG)), can be used to strategically invest in research on living systems across scales, from atoms, to organisms, to the environment.

The goals of BioMaPS involve discovering fundamental new knowledge at the intersections of biology, math, and physical sciences to better understand and replicate nature’s ability to network, communicate, and adapt and to enable innovation in national priorities such as clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and understanding the brain. For example, BioMaPS has and will accelerate the generation of bio-based materials and the advanced manufacturing of bio-inspired nanosensors, devices and platforms. Such investments are essential to the nation’s prosperity, economic competitiveness, and quality of life.

In fiscal years 2014 and 2015, NSF invested approximately $60 million total in BioMaPS-related research and plans to continue supporting this vital investment with the goal of attracting scientists and engineers to transdisciplinary research and educating the STEM workforce of tomorrow. For BIO, Emerging Frontiers has been providing matching funds to supplement the support of BioMaPS awards by established BIO programs.

In FY14, BIO supported 106 BioMaPS awards. Modeling and Informatics proposals across all four of BIO’s divisions were jointly funded with the MPS and ENG Directorates for modeling of biological systems. Fifteen proposals had applications in instrument development, and 10 proposals had applications in bio-manufacturing. Projects ranged from instrumentation for high-speed, high-volume 3D imaging in vivo to unlocking the mechanism of tRNA translocation through the ribosome using large-scale molecular simulation.

Recently, BioMaPS FY15 funding was used to provide to Dr. Jennifer Doudna a Creativity Extension for her existing award, “Mechanisms of Acquired Immunity in Bacteria” (Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences). Dr. Doudna is a pioneer in studying Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs), whose function in bacteria is to recognize and destroy incoming phage or plasmid DNAs. CRISPR technology is now revolutionizing the biotech industry.

If you think your research meets the criteria of a BioMaPS project or you are considering developing a research project that reflects BioMaPS goals, please contact the Program Director for an established BIO program (i.e., there is not a separate solicitation or Dear Colleague Letter soliciting proposals specifically for BioMaPS funding).

NSF BIO Assistant Director visits Ecological Society of America Centennial Meeting

by Dr. Jim Olds, BIO AD

This week, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Centennial Meeting was held in Baltimore, Maryland, so I was able to visit and learn about some of the exciting research our NSF-funded students and PIs are doing in the field of ecology.

ESA banner

In the morning, I had an informative meet-and-greet session with a number of researchers who stopped by to chat with me about their research and their concerns and hopes regarding the future of biological science. We discussed the value of collaborative networks, of regional to continental scale data collection and access, of core funding through BIO’s Divisions, and a variety of other topics. Most important, I got to listen, ask questions, and learn from the scientific community. Though I am a neuroscientist, I am fascinated by and dedicated to absorbing as much information as I can about the fundamental science of the disciplines that are supported by the Directorate. As a young researcher and later as a mentor, I had the privilege of working at Woods Hole in Massachusetts, which fostered my appreciation for the dynamic nature of ecological studies and the challenges faced by researchers tasked with elucidating the interactions of organisms and their environments.

Dr. Olds with PIs during the morning meet and greet.

In the morning, I chatted with researchers from the University of Minnesota, UC Irvine, the University of Utah, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

In the afternoon, I attended the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) session which included many Ignite-style presentations about the data and resources that NEON is or will be providing. The Q & A in this session gave me and other BIO staff members the chance to hear some of the questions the scientific community has about the Observatory. I followed up this session by attending some great podium presentations about collaborative networks and the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON).

In the afternoon, I had the chance to talk with more researchers during another meet-and-greet session and visited the BIO booth in the Exhibit Hall. Many thanks to the BIO staff who took the time to speak with ESA attendees about the programs and resources BIO has to offer.

NSF booth at ESA

A great day culminated in a Synthesis Center Reception co-hosted by SESYNC, NIMBioS, NCEAS, and the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis.

What is synthesis?

Synthesis centers are a signature activity for the Directorate. NCEAS began as an NSF-funded center and paved the way for other NSF-funded centers, including the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCEnt) at Duke, SESYNC, located in Annapolis, and NIMBioS at the University of Tennessee, which have all been great successes. These centers provide resources and sophisticated infrastructure to allow researchers from varied disciplines to gather together to address new questions that require the synthesis of data.

BIO Synthesis Centers

It was a great day at ESA! I look forward to attending other professional society meetings and conferences throughout my tenure as Assistant Director of BIO.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) students share their research at summer’s end

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation.

Many REU programs hold symposia at the end of the summer at which students can present their research. The Biological Sciences Directorate was excited to see the outcomes of some REU projects shared via social media, thanks to faculty/researchers and students. Below are some examples of what was shared with the @NSF_BIO Twitter account.

#LCREU student symposium Wed Aug 5, 1 pm @uvmvermont Waterman Bldg 338. Posters, REU Zine, reception. @NSF_BIO

#LCREU students give final poster presentations on their summer research. @dvm_uvm @NSF_BIO

Fantastic job #LCREU cohort! Expect big things in future. @NSF_BIO Link to posters and zine

Today is the 27th #BioREU symposium at @RGGSatAMNH. These students were so impressive (as always)! Thanks to @NSF_BIO for support.

Symposium talk 2: CT scanning of hyoid in #sharks by Rachel Hutchin. #REU @AMNH @NSF_BIO

Devin Hoffman shows in his #BioREU talk how much influence one taxon can have on tree topology. @RGGSatAMNH @NSF_BIO   Ashley Paynter from @binghamtonu on contagious clam cancer. #BioREU @theleechguy @RGGSatAMNH @NSF_BIO   More than 40% of our past @NSF_BIO #REU interns now in tenure track positions. Like @Annalida500 @LSU_FISH @okiewhaler @CookeSiobhan #BioREU     Hey...@NSF_BIO...our REU program will broadcast student talks. Come see what you funded. Session 1 (4-6pm PST)

#FHLREU student @noahb225 gives shout out to @Nautichthys on sculpin fins - implications for terrestrial locomotion

Katherine Corn calculated the effects of flatfish size on burial parameters. #FHLREU

Our @LouisCalderCtr summer #REU symposium kicks off at 9:30 with @theleechguy as keynote speaker, and then 12 undergrad talks! @NSF_BIO

First up. Rachelle Carino from St Francis college: catnip oil as a tick repellent #REU @NSF_BIO @LouisCalderCtr

Jenniffer Riley explores the natural history of bats in NYC #CSUR2015 @fordhamnotes @NSF_BIO #batgirl

Giselle Herrera explores the molecular ecology of coyotes in NY #CSUR2015 @fordhamnotes @NSF_BIO

Be sure to follow #REU on Twitter for more updates (you don’t need a Twitter account to follow along, just click here)!