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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.

Download the Preliminary RDaF Publication (PDF). 


This research data lifecycle has six stages: Envision; Plan; Generate/Acquire; Process/Analyze; Share/Use/Reuse; and Preserve/Discard

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

The Preliminary RDaF

The structure of the RDaF follows that of the NIST Cybersecurity and Privacy Frameworks, which consist of three parts: the Framework Core, the Framework Profiles, and Implementation Tiers.

The Framework Core has four 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 the Preliminary Framework Core (PDF).

Framework Profiles allow the RDaF to be tailored to different levels of stakeholders/users from a CEO to an individual researcher. To develop a Framework 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. Framework Profiles may be used to conduct self-assessments of research data management and communicate the results within an organization or between organizations.

Implementation Tiers are under development and are not available in the current version of the RDaF.

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. Input from these workshops resulted in extensive revisions to the categories and subcategories in the six research data lifecycle stages of the Framework Core. This updated Core, v. 1.1, will be used in 15 Stakeholder Workshops, each focused on a different job/role, e.g., Researcher, Publisher, Funder. Workshop participants will be 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 will be used by the NIST RDaF team to develop generic Profiles as described above. 

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

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

  • Contact Robert Hanisch, robert.hanisch@nist or Debbie Kaiser, debra.kaiser [at]
  • 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, Chair CODATA International data organization

Laura Biven

National Institutes of Health 


Cate Brinson Duke University Academia
Martin Halbert National Science Foundation Funder, government

Hilary Hanahoe

Research Data Alliance

International data organization

Heather Joseph

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition

A non-gov't advocacy organization, libraries

Mark Leggott

Digital Research Alliance of Canada

Multi-stakeholder partnership

Barend Mons

Leiden University, CODATA, GO-FAIR

International data organization

Sarah Nusser Iowa State University and the University of Virginia Academia

Beth Plale

Indiana University


Carly Strasser Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Private philanthropic organization

Anita de Waard


Scholarly publisher, private sector

Created November 2, 2020, Updated June 29, 2022