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NIST Releases Version 2.0 of Research Data Framework (RDaF)

On February 8, 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released Version 2.0 of the NIST Research Data Framework (RDaF). The NIST RDaF is a multi-stakeholder, international effort designed to provide organizations with a structured approach to developing a customizable strategy for the management of research data. 

Considering the complexity of the research data ecosystem and the challenge it can be to navigate the vast number of stakeholders, funding models, and sustainability plans, the NIST RDaF was developed to help organizations assess and improve their research data management activities. Guided by community-based best practices, the RDaF answers questions such as: How long should data be kept? How should data quality be assessed? How do we measure the value of research data? 

The NIST RDaF is a resource for the entire research data community, including both organizations and individuals engaged in research data management in any discipline, community members from industry, universities, government departments and agencies, funders, and scholarly publishers. The framework helps organizations: 

  • increase research integrity with quality data and improved transparency of the research process; 

  • reduce costs and maximize efficiency by establishing best practices for data management; 

  • guide risk management and reduction through assessment of risk positions and roadmaps for improvement; 

  • and increase scientific discovery and innovation with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) for better utilization of data. 

This is accomplished through provision of: 

  • a map of the research data management ecosystem, organized by a canonical data lifecycle, into topics and subtopics; 

  • a dynamic guide for research data stakeholders to understand best practices in research data management and dissemination; 

  • a resource for understanding costs, benefits, and risks associated with research data management; 

  • and a consensus document based on inputs and conversations amongst stakeholders in research data.

Providing perhaps the most comprehensive view of the research data ecosystem to date, the NIST RDaF comprises: 6 lifecycle stages, 50 topics, and 335 subtopics (programmatic and operational activities, concepts, and other important factors relevant to research data management with definitions), 14 overarching themes, 8 “generic” profiles (samples for common job functions or roles), and over 1,000 informational references (standards, guidelines, and policies, that assist stakeholders in addressing that subtopic).

Overview of NIST RDaF Version 2.0
Overview of NIST RDaF Version 2.0
Dr. Robert Hanisch, Director of the NIST Office of Data and Informatics, provides an overview of the NIST RDaF and its development process. 

Version 2 of the RDaF is a substantial expansion over Versions 1 and 1.5. Topics and subtopics have been extended and clarified based on community feedback, and overarching themes and sample profiles have been added. All topics and subtopics have explicit definitions, with references. It now stands as the most comprehensive overview of the research data ecosystem in existence.

This research data framework represents nearly four years of development, coordinated by the NIST Office of Data and Informatics. This framework is not a NIST imposition or standard, but rather a resource built with extensive community engagement, including: 3 plenary workshops, 15 topical breakout meetings, community inputs received in response to a Federal Registry Request for Comment, and a community engagement meeting hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. 

Opening Remarks Research Data Framework Plenary Workshop September 2023
Opening Remarks Research Data Framework Plenary Workshop September 2023
Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences, provides the opening remarks for the Research Data Framework Plenary Workshop on September 11, 2023.

The NIST RDaF has been adopted by several large organizations for assessment of their research data management capacity and capabilities. The Digital Research Alliance of Canada has already used Version 1.0 of the NIST RDaF for a self-assessment of their research data management capacity, and the State University of New York System is engaging in a similar exercise, and in collaboration with NIST, in the preparation of a guide to implementation of the Framework.

The Office of Data and Informatics acknowledges the support of the Material Measurement Laboratory and the inspiration for the RDaF from the Information Technology Laboratory’s Cybersecurity Framework.

View the NIST Research Data Framework (RDaF) Version 2.0

Released February 8, 2024, Updated February 13, 2024