Data Preservation

Data preservation means providing for the usability of data beyond the lifetime of the research activity that generated them.

Data Sharing

Data sharing means making data available to people other than those who have generated them. Examples of data sharing range from bilateral communications with colleagues to providing free, unrestricted access to the public through, for example, a Web-based platform.

Digital Research Data

Digital data encompass a variety of information stored in digital form, including experimental, observational, and simulation data; codes, software, and algorithms; text; numeric information; images; video; audio; and associated metadata. It also encompasses information in a variety of forms, including raw, processed, and analyzed data as well as published and archived data.

This policy focuses on digital research data, which are research data that can be stored digitally and accessed electronically. Research data are defined in regulation (2 CFR 200.315 (e), continuing the definition from 2 CFR 215 (OMB Circular A-110External link), as follows:

“Research data is defined as the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings, but not any of the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues. This 'recorded' material excludes physical objects (e.g., laboratory samples). Research data also do not include:

(A) Trade secrets, commercial information, materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information which is protected under law; and

(B) Personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular person in a research study.”


Metadata are data that describe other data. Metadata summarize basic information about data, which can make finding and working with particular instances of data easier.


In the context of this policy, validate means to support, corroborate, verify, or otherwise determine the legitimacy of the research findings. Validation of research findings could be accomplished by reproducing the original experiment or analyses, comparing and contrasting the results against those of a new experiment or analyses, or by some other means.

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