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Research Data Management: Writing Data Management Plans

Resources for writing data management plans, preserving and sharing research data

General Strategies

Creating a data management plan (DMP) is a good first step to ensure that your research data is organized, properly preserved, and made easily accessible to your research group and the larger research community. In an effort to encourage preservation and sharing of research data, numerous funding agencies are also beginning to require that researchers submit data management plans along with their grant proposals.

Although the exact requirements of the funding agencies vary, the National Science Foundation's guidelines provide a good starting point for developing a thorough data management plan. According to these guidelines, a data management plan should address the following points (from Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter II.C.2.j):

  • The types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  • The standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies);
  • Policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
  • Policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
  • Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

Specific Strategies

  • The freely available DMP Tool allows you to create ready-to-use data management plans tailored to a variety of funding agencies. To begin using the DMP Tool, click on the Get Started button in the middle of the screen and select "University of Denver" from the list of institutions. DMPOnline is similar to the DMP Tool, but it includes requirements and templates for funding agencies based in the UK.

Following through on your Data Management Plan

Your data management plan is more than just an item on your grant-getting checklist. It can guide the way you manage data throughout your project, keeping you organized so you can find your data when you need it, and helping you be prepared to share the data at the end of the project.

Consider creating a Data Management Cheat Sheet for your project, based on your DMP. A generic template is included below to help you get started.