New federal guidelines state that investigators are “expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data . . . created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants.” Designed to spur innovation and reduce the duplication of effort, these guidelines have instead created confusion and even mild panic among historians. What constitutes “data” for the historian of science? How best might this “data” be organized and shared with others? How can historians balance their responsibility to share the fruits of federally funded research without jeopardizing their own claims to priority? What of archival restrictions, or the need to protect a research subject’s privacy? What are the NSF’s expectations for a “data management plan”?
The History of Science Society’s Committee on Research and the Profession (CORP) has assembled a workshop to address these concerns at this year’s meeting. If you’re attending this year’s HSS meeting, please join us Friday night at 7:30 PM for a discussion with Jon Stiles, the Director of Archive Services at the University of California, Berkeley; Dominique Tobbell, of the University of Minnesota; and Alex Wellerstein, of American Institute of Physics.
Can’t make the session? The NSF has put together some (somewhat?) helpful documents on its interpretation of the policy. Though they leave many questions unanswered, do have a look at the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences’ statement on data policy management and stated policy on data archiving. And if you have any brilliant insights on how historians might “manage” and “share” their “data,” please do share in the comments below.