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RDaF lifecycle graphic
Credit: NIST ODI

In the past decade, research data have become widely recognized as a critical national and global resource, and the risks of losing or mismanaging research data can have severe economic and social consequences. The proliferation of artificial intelligence approaches in all fields has created a huge demand for trustworthy research data in both the natural (e.g., chemistry) and social (e.g., economics) sciences. To address these issues, NIST initiated a new, multi-stakeholder project in fall 2019 entitled the Research Data Framework (RDaF). The RDaF will provide the stakeholder community with a structured approach to develop a customizable strategy for the management of research data. The audience for the RDaF is the entire research data community, including all organizations and individuals engaged in any activities concerning research data management, from Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Data Officers (CDOs) to librarians and researchers. 

Version 2.0 of the RDaF Publication

RDaF Web Application

Appendix A: Informative References (zip) 

Appendix D: Sample Profiles (excel) 


What is the Research Data Framework?

  • A map of the research data space:  who, what, where, why, when?
  • A dynamic guide for the various stakeholders in research data to understand best practices for research data management and dissemination
  • A resource for understanding costs, benefits, and risks associated with research data management
  • A consensus document based on inputs and conversations amongst the stakeholders in research data
  • A tool that may be used to change the research data management culture in an organization
Introduction to NIST Research Data Framework by Robert Hanisch
Introduction to NIST Research Data Framework by Robert Hanisch
NIST Research Data Framework Introduction by Robert Hanisch, Director of the NIST Office of Data and Informatics. April 29, 2022
Update on RDaF Version 1.5
Update on RDaF Version 1.5
Update on Research Data Framework Version 1.5. In this video, Robert Hanisch, Director of the Office of Data and Informatics (ODI) within the Material Measurement Laboratory, describes the updates made to the Research Data Framework in response to community feedback and the release of Version 1.5, which is the subject of a Request for Information. June 2023. 

Version 1.5 of the Research Data Framework

The structure of the RDaF follows that of the NIST Cybersecurity and Privacy Frameworks. The foundation of the RDaF consists of four structural elements:

  • Research Data Lifecycle Stages organize foundational research data-related activities at their highest level. As depicted in the figure above, a lifecycle approach was selected as the organizing concept of the Framework Core.
  • Topics (formerly termed Categories) for the six Lifecycle Stages are closely tied to programmatic needs and activities, as well as other important factors.
  • Subtopics (formerly termed Subcategories) further divide the Topics.
  • Informative References are standards, guidelines, and practices associated with a Subcategory that provide the means to address that topic.

Download Version 1.5 of the RDaF Publication (PDF) 

Request for Information (RFI) on Version 1.5

Profiles allow the RDaF to be tailored to different levels of stakeholders/users from a CEO to an individual researcher. To develop a Profile, an organization can review all the Topics and Subtopics and determine which are relevant for an organizational unit and/or job function. Topics and Subtopics can be added as needed to fully adapt the RDaF to the specific need or use. Profiles may be used to conduct self-assessments of research data management and communicate the results within an organization or between organizations.

Recent Developments and Next Steps

Two concurrent pilot studies—one in Materials Science and the other encompassing various stakeholder roles in Research Universities and their Libraries, Scholarly Publishers, and Professional Societies—were conducted via workshops of roughly 60 stakeholders. 15 Stakeholder Workshops, each focused on a different job/role e.g., Researcher, Publisher, Funder. Workshop participants were asked to identify the most relevant stages, and the topics and subtopics in those stages, for their job/role, as well as any missing topics or subtopics. Input from these workshops was used by the NIST RDaF team to develop generic Profiles and make extensive revisions to the topics and subtopics in each research data lifecycle stage. 

Stakeholder Workshop Presentation for a Generic Job/Role (PDF).

How can you or your organization become involved in the RDaF development?

  • Contact Robert Hanisch, or Alda Yuan, alda.yuan [at] (alda[dot]yuan[at]nist[dot]gov)  
  • Organize and host an informational webinar on the RDaF
  • Identify informative references, both existing and under development, that are associated with the Subtopics in the RDaF Framework Core
  • Promulgate the RDaF through engagement and outreach activities at relevant technical events and venues
  • Publish notices concerning the RDaF in topical newsletters, journals, and social media


RDaF Overview February 2021

RDaF Overview May 2022

Robert Hanisch's invited presentations on the RDaF (acronyms defined below*)

ACS meeting (3/22/22); OSTP Subcommittee on Open Science (1/27/22); RDaF Materials Science Cohort Opening Plenary Workshop (12/10/21); RDaF University Cohort Opening Plenary Workshop (10/29/21); MaRDA Working Group (6/3/21); RDA (4/21/21); ACS meeting: (4/14/21); AAU/APLU Research Data Summit (3/16/21); ORCID, DataCite (1/25/21); Future of Federally Supported Data Repositories workshop, panel and presentation (1/13-15/21); NIH Bio-Medical Information Council (1/13/21); Argonne National Lab, general symposium (12/17/20); Argonne National Lab, pre-briefing (12/9/20); FAIR Convergence Workshop (12/1/20); CNI Annual Meeting (11/20/20); SSURF, DOE National Labs (11/9/20); STM CHORUS (11/6/20); NASEM/BRDI (10/14/20); NASEM Review Panel for MML/ODI (9/9/20); OSTP Subcommittee on Open Science (3/26/20); OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier (3/26/20) 

* ACS: American Chemical Society; BRDI: NASEM Board on Research Data and Information; CNI: Coalition for Networked Information; FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable; MaRDA: Materials Research Data Alliance; MML: Material Measurement Laboratory (NIST); NASEM: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; ODI: Office of Data and Informatics (MML, NIST); ORCID: Open Researcher and Contributor; OSTP: Office of Science and Technology Policy; RDA: Research Data Alliance; SSURF: Society of Scientific User Research Facilities; STM: International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers

Related Documents and Information

NIST Cybersecurity Framework             NIST Privacy Framework

RDaF Steering Committee

Bonnie Carroll, ChairCODATAInternational data organization
Laura BivenNational Institutes of Health Government
Cate BrinsonDuke UniversityAcademia
Martin HalbertNational Science FoundationFunder, government
Hilary HanahoeResearch Data AllianceInternational data organization
Heather JosephScholarly Publishing and Academic Resources CoalitionA non-gov't advocacy organization, libraries
Mark LeggottDigital Research Alliance of CanadaMulti-stakeholder partnership
Barend MonsLeiden University, CODATA, GO-FAIRInternational data organization
Sarah NusserIowa State University and the University of VirginiaAcademia
Beth PlaleIndiana UniversityAcademia
Anita de WaardElsevierScholarly publisher, private sector
Christopher ErdmannSciLifeLab Data CenterInternational data organization
Created November 2, 2020, Updated March 1, 2024