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What is a Data Management Plan and how do I write one?

What is a Data Management Plan and how do I write one?

  • Data Management Plans cover collection, organisation, use, storage, contextualisation, preservation and sharing of research data
  • Plans focus resources, identify responsibilities, and highlight potential problems with sharing and long-term preservation of research data
  • The DMPonline tool allows for the writing of Data Management Plans for review and submission with funding applications

The basis of effective Research Data Management is planning.

Most Data Management Plans cover collection, organisation, use, storage, contextualisation, preservation and sharing of data. However, different forms of Research Data Management plans exist, and requirements vary considerably across funders.

It is worthwhile to think early about managing data. Do so ahead of time rather than having to react and improvise towards the end of a project with the additional pressure of time and money weighing on successful completion. By looking ahead, a plan can focus resources, identify responsibilities, highlight problems allowing for consideration of solutions before potential problems become insurmountable obstacles to long-term preservation and sharing.

Furthermore, funders now assume potential difficulties in meeting data sharing and preservation requirements will be identified and an explanation of how the project intends to address them be provided as part of a funding application. A Data Management Plan can help meet this expectation.

 If you are concerned about costs, Research Councils UK state it is an:

appropriate use of public funds to support the management and sharing of publicly-funded research data.

Other funders are often receptive to specific costs outlined in the budget that are intended to enhance the value of data beyond the original research project.

Writing a Data Management Plan

First, take a look at funder’s expectations on DMPs. What do they require, when do they require it?

The Digital Curation Centre has an online Data Management Planning tool called DMPonline. This is designed to help researchers write and revise plans to meet funder requirements or for their own Research Data Management planning.

DMPonline contains template plans for RCUK funders that can be exported into different formats for submission as part of funding applications. DMPTool, a version for North American funders is also available.

Generic and funder specific guidance, examples, and suggested answers are provided to help researchers. Plans can be shared with others and/or with the Data Library on a read-only, edit, or co-owner basis. The Data Library aims to respond to requests for reviews within two working days.

LSE Library has produced guides to writing a Data Management Plan using DMPonline for:

Further reading