MRC Research Data Sharing Policy

"The MRC's overarching policy aim for data-sharing is to maximise the life-time value of research data assets for human health and to do so in a way that is timely, responsible, with as few restrictions as possible, and consistent with the law, regulations and recognised good practice."

The Medical Research Council (MRC) policy on research data sharing does not prescribe when or how researchers should preserve and share data but requires them to make clear provision for doing so when planning and executing research.


A summary of the main MRC requirements for:

Data management plans

The MRC requires that all applicants submitting funding proposals to the MRC include a data management plan (DMP) as an integral part of the application. Guidance and a DMP template [Word] are available.

In the MRC's DMP template you are asked to note any related policies. We have produced an example answer on related policies (University of York policies for DMPs (PDF , 269kb) for you to adapt and use in MRC (or other) grant applications as appropriate.

Help with costs

The MRC will provide resources and funding for managing and sharing substantial data resources/collections. This could be for people, equipment, infrastructure and tools to manage, store, analyse and provide access to data. Where the costs of managing and sharing data are substantial, funding proposals should differentiate between the costs of (i) collecting and cleaning new data; (ii) own research on newly-acquired and legacy data; (iii) ongoing data curation and preservation; and (iv) providing access and data-sharing. 

Data deposit and retention

The MRC expects researchers to deposit primary/raw data and related material in an appropriate repository and ‘in a timely manner’.

Data must be retained for a minimum of 10 years after the study has been completed. Some data needs to be kept longer, depending on the type of study.

Data access and sharing

The MRC expects data to be shared "with as few restrictions as possible" and "in a timely and responsible manner". However, ongoing research must not be compromised by premature or opportunistic sharing. Appropriate regulatory permissions – ethical, legal and institutional – must be in place before the data can be shared.

Data access statements

The MRC does not mention data access statements explicitly, however, all Research Councils require that “published results should always include information on how to access the supporting data". See our guidance on Data access statements.

Policy last checked: December 2016

Further sources of help

Write a DMP for the MRC using DMPonline

DMPonline, a web-based tool provided by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), can help you create an effective DMP that meets the requirements set by the MRC.

To get started, first create an account, then sign in with your institutional credentials. After signing in, click on ‘Create a plan’ and select ‘Medical Research Council’ when asked for your funder. For additional guidance in completing your DMP, choose to see guidance from the University of York and from the DCC in the template provided.