NIH issues a seismic mandate: share data publicly

Max Kozlov at Nature: “In January 2023, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will begin requiring most of the 300,000 researchers and 2,500 institutions it funds annually to include a data-management plan in their grant applications — and to eventually make their data publicly available.

Researchers who spoke to Nature largely applaud the open-science principles underlying the policy — and the global example it sets. But some have concerns about the logistical challenges that researchers and their institutions will face in complying with it. Namely, they worry that the policy might exacerbate existing inequities in the science-funding landscape and could be a burden for early-career scientists, who do the lion’s share of data collection and are already stretched thin.

Because the vast majority of laboratories and institutions don’t have data managers who organize and curate data, the policy — although well-intentioned — will probably put a heavy burden on trainees and early-career principal investigators, says Lynda Coughlan, a vaccinologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, who has been leading a research team for fewer than two years and is worried about what the policy will mean for her.

Jorgenson says that, although the policy might require researchers to spend extra time organizing their data, it’s an essential part of conducting research, and the potential long-term boost in public trust for science will justify the extra effort…(More)”.