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National Science Foundation

Open Data at NSF

Pursuant to the May 9, 2013 Open Data Memorandum (OMB Memorandum M-13-13) and Project Open Data, NSF maintains an enterprise data inventory of all data resources across the agency and periodically updates public data listings.

In alignment with the goals described in the memorandum, NSF aims to connect developers and the public with agency data and resources, so that NSF information can adapt to new purposes in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and research community.

NSF's Developer Resources provides access to featured NSF data and web services. The page is updated as NSF makes new developer tools and data resources available.

In addition to NSF's resources for developers, the Foundation maintains a public data listing, where each data set is described using a metadata profile that corresponds to the Data.gov common core standard. NSF's public data listing is periodically updated to ensure public accessibility.

NSF's default position is to ensure data and information is available and accessible in an open machine-readable format. NSF will continue to provide opportunities for its stakeholders and the public to provide input on which datasets are high-value data collections. NSF will then prioritize the conversion to open formats, based on stakeholder and public interest.

OPEN DATA INVENTORY APPROACH

As described in NSF's Open Data Inventory, summarized below, NSF is committed to continually expanding, enriching, and opening existing agency data with the following goals:

  • Expand -- publish additional data assets in the inventory:
  • Enrich -- improve the discoverability, management, and reusability of agency data assets through metadata.
  • Open -- provide machine-readable and publically accessible agency data assets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is open data and why is it important?

    A: Open data are publicly available data structured in a way to be fully accessible and usable. This is important because data that is open, available, and accessible will help spur innovation and inform how agencies should evolve their programs to better meet the public's needs. In general, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) refers to open data as consistent with the following principles:

    • Public- Consistent with OMB’s Open Government Directive, agencies must adopt a presumption in favor of openness to the extent permitted by law and subject to privacy, confidentiality, security, or other valid restrictions.
    • Accessible- Open data are made available in convenient, modifiable, and open formats that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched. Formats should be machine-readable for automated processing. Open data should be made available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes, often by providing the data in multiple formats for consumption. To the extent permitted by law, these formats should be non-proprietary, publicly available, and without restrictions placed upon their use.
    • Described- Open data are described fully so that consumers have sufficient information to understand the data’s strengths, weaknesses, analytical limitations, and security requirements, as well as how the data are processed. Describing the data involves the use of robust, granular metadata (i.e., fields or elements that describe data), thorough documentation of data elements, data dictionaries, and, if applicable, additional descriptions of the purpose of the collection, the population of interest, the characteristics of the sample, and the method of data collection.
    • Reusable - Open data are made available under an open license that places no restrictions on their use.
    • Complete - Open data are published in primary forms with the finest possible level of granularity that is practicable and permitted by law and other requirements. Derived or aggregate open data should also be published but must reference the primary data.
    • Timely - Open data are made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data. Frequency of release should account for key audiences and downstream needs.
    • Managed Post Release - A point of contact must be designated to assist with data use and to respond to complaints about adherence to these open data requirements.
  2. What are the NSF goals related to open data?

    A: In accordance with NSF’s Open Government Plan, NSF is committed to continually expanding, enriching, and opening existing agency data with the following goals:

    • Expand -- publish additional data assets in the inventory;
    • Enrich -- improve the discoverability, management, and reusability of agency data assets through metadata; and
    • Open -- provide machine-readable and publically accessible agency data assets.
  3. Where can I find NSF datasets?

    A: NSF datasets can be found on Data.gov.

  4. Where can I find NSF’s web APIs and developer resources?

    A: NSF’s web APIs and developer resources can be found on NSF’s Developer Resources web page. NSF aims to connect developers with agency data and resources so that NSF information can be adapted for new purposes. NSF's Developer Resources provide access to featured NSF data and web services.

  5. Where can I find the results of NSF-funded research?

    A: NSF has developed a plan outlining a framework for activities to increase public access to scientific publications and digital scientific data resulting from research the foundation funds. The plan, entitled “Today’s Data, Tomorrow’s Discoveries,” is consistent with the objectives set forth in the Office of Science and Technology Policy's Feb. 22, 2013, memorandum, "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research," and with long-standing policies encouraging data sharing and communication of research results. More information on this initiative can be found on the Public Access webpage.

  6. What is NSF’s identification and prioritization process for new datasets?

    A: NSF will continue to inventory data collected or generated by the foundation, building on the e-Gov content inventory and NSF Records Retention Schedule. NSF will continue to provide opportunities for stakeholders and the public to determine which datasets are high-value data collections. The strategy will be to prioritize the datasets that are determined high-value data as well as requests from the public. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports, award data, and spending data continue to receive the most interest from the public and, therefore, are considered to be of high value.

  7. How can I provide feedback on NSF’s datasets?

    A: NSF welcomes your input and feedback on our implementation of the federal digital strategy, open data requirements, and new datasets or data types. Please visit NSF’s Open Government web page for more information. You can also contact us to share your thoughts on NSF's open data activities or provide feedback through the Data.gov Help Desk.

  8. I have a question that hasn’t been answered here, how can I get in touch?

    A: The Open Data at NSF FAQs will be updated based upon feedback and input from the public. Please contact us to share your thoughts on NSF's open data activities. You can also submit a question or provide feedback using the Data.gov Help Desk.

QUARTERLY MILESTONES

The following quarterly milestones describe NSF's schedule for evaluating the enterprise data inventory and public data listings.

  • Initial Enterprise Data Inventory
    • Description: Publish Updated Inventories
    • Completed Date: November 30, 2013
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Expands through creation of new inventory.
  • Initial Public Data Inventory
    • Description: Completion of initial (baseline) Public Data Inventory.
    • Completed Date: November 30, 2013.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Expands and opens through creation of new inventory.
  • Full Assessment of Agency Data Sources
    • Description: Conduct full review of agency data sources for potential inclusion in updated Enterprise Data Inventory and Public Data Inventory.
    • Completed Date: February 28, 2014.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Expands by identifying additional data assets for inventory inclusion.
  • Improve Metadata
    • Description: Review existing datasets and related metadata and develop recommendations for adding additional metadata to improve access to content.
    • Completed Date: February 28, 2014.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Enriches by identifying need for additional/improved metadata pertaining to data assets.
  • Increase Openness of Priority Data Assets
    • Description: Develop agency plan for increasing open access to existing agency datasets, focusing on high value datasets (i.e., datasets most relevant to NSF's mission of advancing scientific research).
    • Completed Date: February 28, 2014.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Opens by increasing open access to agency data assets.
  • Expand Inventories per Assessment Results
    • Description: Ensure newly identified agency data sources are added to updated Enterprise Data Inventory and Public Data Inventory.
    • Completed Date: May 31, 2014.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Expands by adding additional data assets to inventories.
  • Update Inventory Metadata
    • Description: Update metadata in Enterprise Data Inventory and Public Data Inventory to reflect recommendations resulting from metadata review.
    • Completed Date: May 31, 2014.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Enriches by improving metadata pertaining to data assets.
  • Publish Updated Inventories
    • Description: Publish updated Enterprise Data Inventory and Public Data Inventory to reflect the results of expansion, enrichment, and openness efforts described above.
    • Completed Date: August 30, 2014.
    • Description of how milestone expands/enriches/opens inventory: Expands, Enriches, and Opens inventories by delivering fully updated inventories.

NSF's public data inventory is available in JSON format. NSF's datasets are also linked from Data.gov and from the agency's Open Government page.

We Welcome Your Feedback!

NSF welcomes your input and feedback on our implementation of federal digital strategy and open data requirements. Contact us to share your thoughts on NSF's open data activities.

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