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Research Data Management

This guide is designed to support research data management by providing guidance on good practices and pointing to additional resources.

What is a Data Management Plan?

Data management plans (DMPs) are written, living documents that outline what researchers will do with the data during and after research projects. As the Digital Curation Centre explains, DMPs "typically state what data will be created and how, and outline the plans for sharing and preservation, noting what is appropriate given the nature of the data and any restrictions that may need to be applied."

Funding agencies are increasingly requiring that grants include a DMP that describes how the data will be handled throughout the research lifecycle and how the data will be disseminated. Even where a plan is not required, having one formalized is good practice and can help to ensure that a research team is following the same approaches to caring for data. 

Components of a Data Management Plan

​While funder requirements for DMPs can differ, there is a general set of elements that DMPs should address:

  • Roles and responsibilities: Who will be responsible for data management? How will adherence to data management policies be enforced?
  • Data production and storage: How and what types of data will be produced? How much data will be produced and how will it be stored during the active phase of the project? Will publicly-available data be used (if so, from where)? 
  • Data organization and documentation: How will data be processed and organized? What file formats will be used? How will data be described or contextualized so that they will be understood and usable by others in the future?
  • Data access and sharing: How will data be shared with others? Will release of data be embargoed (if so, why and for how long)? If data are of a sensitive nature, how will sharing be restricted and/or data reformatted to protect privacy? 
  • Data re-use: Who can re-use the data? How should others re-use the data? What credit should be given for data re-use? Can others re-disseminate the data? 
  • Data preservation: Which data will be preserved? How long will data be preserved? Which repository/archive/database will be used? How often will back-ups occur? What metadata or documentation will accompany the data?

For more useful prompts, the Digital Curation Centre in the UK has prepared a Checklist for a Data Management Plan

DMPTool

Sample Data Management Plans

Reviewing Data Management Plans

For researchers serving on review panels for grant proposals, the Data Management Service Team at Johns Hopkins University has developed a useful guide and worksheet to assist in evaluating components of a DMP.