Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


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

Press release on Version 2.0 

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
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 2.0 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 six 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.
  • Overarching Themes interweave all lifecycle stages
  • Informative References are standards, guidelines, and practices associated with a Subcategory that provide the means to address that topic. 
  • Profiles allow the RDaF to be tailored to different levels of stakeholders/users from a CEO to an individual researcher. Stakeholder Workshop Presentation for a Generic Job/Role (PDF).

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.

Recent Developments and Next Steps

Since the publication of RDaF version 2.0 we have been creating and running workshops for institutions interested in implementing the RDaF locally. The team is also refining the RDaF web app and looking into ways of visualizing the framework through network graphs. 

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

  • Contact Robert Hanisch, or rdaf [at] (rdaf[at]nist[dot]gov)  
  • Organize and host an informational webinar or workshop 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
  • Inform us of any implementation projects within your organization


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 June 17, 2024