Research data funder requirements

Different funders have different requirements regarding how to manage and share research data.

Research Councils UK
Research Councils UK have agreed a set of Common Principles on Data Policy. They are based on the idea that publicly funded research data should be considered ‘a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner that does not harm intellectual property’. The policy can be summarised as follows.

  • Data with ‘acknowledged long-term value’ should be preserved and remain accessible and usable for future research.
  • In line with Open Access to publications, RCUK require that you include a statement in your published paper on how and on what terms the underlying research data can be accessed by third parties.
  • If there are reasons to limit access to the data, these reasons should be included in the statement. RCUK recognises ‘that there are legal, ethical and commercial constraints on release of research data’ and that it is important ‘to ensure that the research process is not damaged by inappropriate release of data relating to these constraints’. RCUK also recognises that ‘those who undertake Research Council funded work may be entitled to a limited period of privileged use of the data they have collected to enable them to publish the results of their research’.
  • The research data should be sufficiently documented to enable the data ‘to be discoverable and effectively re-used by others’.
  • It is appropriate to use public funds to support the management and sharing of publicly-funded research data.

All RCUK funders require a Data Management Plan when you apply for funding, and most have issued their own requirements for research data management and Data Management Plans. You will find ‘at a glance’ summaries of these requirements on the Digital Curation Centre’s overview of funders’ data policies. The University of Bristol has useful guides for writing Data Management Plans for each of the seven RCUK funding agencies, as well as for Horizon 2020, the Wellcome Trust and The Royal Society.

Use this table to find out about requirements for data archiving and data sharing, as well as links to guidance from the funding agencies, and other useful guides.

Funder Guidance and policies Other guides
AHRC research funding guide (also available as pdf) guidance for writing a technical summary and plan Data Management Planning for AHRC applicants(University of Bristol)

Example plan (University of Bristol)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

BBSRC data sharing policy (this includes guidance for data management plans), and funding guide Data Management Planning for BBSRC applicants (University of Bristol)

Example plan (University of Bristol)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

EPSRC EPSRC Policy Framework on Research Data Data Management Planning for EPSRC applicants (University of Bristol)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

ESRC research data policy, guide for data management planning for ESRC researchers, and guidance for peer reviewers on data management plans Data Management Planning for ESRC appliants (University of Bristol)

Example plan (University of Bristol)

Two example plans (University of Leeds)

Fictional example plan (University of York)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

MRC guidance on data management plans (including a template and guidance for reviewers), and MRC data sharing policy Data Management Planning for MRC applicants (University of Bristol)

Example plan (Unviersity of Bristol)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

NERC guidance on data management planning, and their data policy Data Management Planning for NERC applicants (University of Bristol)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

STCF guidance on writing a Data Management Plan, and their scientific data policy Data Management Planning for STFC applicants (University of Bristol)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

Horizon 2020
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 is running an Open Research Data Pilot. Projects participating in the pilot are required to develop a Data Management Plan (DMP), in which they will specify

  • what data the project will generate
  • whether and how it will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use
  • how it will be curated and preserved

Data must be deposited in a suitable repository.

From 2017 the Open Research Data Pilot will be extended to include all Horizon 2020 projects: all rpoejct will be required to create a data management plan and for all projects open research data will be the default option. If there are legitimate reasons not to share data, it will be possible to opt out of the open research data requirement, which should be argued in your data management plan. Legitimate reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Issues around commercial or industrial exploitation
  • Confidentiality connected to security
  • Incompatibility with rules protecting personal data

Projects that will not generate or collect research data are also exempted, as are those for which sharing data would jeopardise the outcome of the project. It is also accepted that where regenerating the data at a later date would be cheaper than archiving it then it is not worth the effort to deposit it in a repository.

Funder Guidance and policies Other guides
Horizon 2020 Guidelines on Data Management in Horizon 2020 (pdf) which includes a DMP template, and Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020 (pdf) Data management planning for Horizon 2020 applicants (University of Bristol)
Other funders
Funder Guidance and policies Other guides
CRUK data sharing guidelines (including guidelines for a data management and sharing plan) and policy on data sharing and preservation Data sharing FAQs (CRUK)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)

NC3Rs NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research) have adopted the RCUK guidance for open publishing and data sharing plus additional MRC terms and conditions – Grant holder Information Research Councils’ Terms and Conditions – RCUK

Policies and Guidance for Researchers – MRC

NIHR Since 2014, the National Institute for Health Research has a policy on open Access. It now requires a data sharing plan as part of the funding proposal but it does not require that the data must be made open. NIHR do have a data sharing policy if you are publishing in one of their journals.
Wellcome Trust guidance for researchers on developing a data management and sharing plan and policy on data management and sharing Data Management Planning for Wellcome Trust applicants (University of Bristol)

Data sharing (Wellcome Trust)

Q&A: Wellcome Trust policy on data management and sharing (Wellcome Trust)

Writing a Wellcome Trust Data Management & Sharing Plan (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

Summary of policy stipulations (DCC)


The SHERPA / JULIET database provides current and comprehensive information about the data archiving and data sharing requirements of all research funders. The database is maintained by the University of Nottingham.