Common Data Elements: Standardizing Data Collection

NLM and Common Data Elements

NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy

Researchers funded by the NIH may have added incentive to use common data elements: the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policies. Beginning in January 2023, NIH expects that investigators and institutions plan and budget for the managing and sharing of data, submit a data management and sharing plan for review when applying for funding, and then comply with the approved plan.

Using common data elements can be part of an effective plan for managing and sharing data. According to the policy:

“NIH encourages researchers to use CDEs, which helps improve accuracy, consistency, and interoperability among datasets within various areas of health and disease research.”

For example, the NIH Office of Intramural Research (OIR) guidance and the OIR Intramural Data Management and Sharing Plan Template state that researchers must describe what CDEs will be used in their project, and to justify if CDEs will not be used.

To learn more about the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policies, see the NIH Scientific Data Sharing website and the Network of the NLM Toolkit for the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy.

“Data Management.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,