Best Practices for Sharing Research Software

Frequently Asked Questions


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) promotes broad dissemination of research products including NIH-funded and/or NIH-developed research software. These FAQs offer best practices for sharing research software and source code, developed under research grants in any stage of development, in a free and open format. Releasing the software source code in an “open” manner means that you permit users to use, modify, and/or redistribute the code. The FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) also provide a useful framework for better software management and sharing.


Several resources are available for developing and sharing research grade software. Working groups such as Force 11, WSSPE, The Society for Research Software Engineering, RDA and projects such as CodeMeta and Metadata2020 all provide guidance, tools, and access to practicing communities. NIH recommends considering these when developing and releasing software.

For specific questions on sharing research software developed under your NIH award, contact your assigned Program Officer or your institution’s Sponsored Projects or Technology Development and Transfer Offices.

This page last reviewed on September 23, 2021