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Research Data Management

Learn about DMPs

A data management plan or DMP is a document that outlines how you will handle your data both during your research and after the project is completed. The goal of a data management plan is to consider the many aspects of data management, metadata generation and data preservation. A successful DMP should be completed before the project begins in order to ensure that data are well-managed during the research process as well as for preservation of the data for future use.

Each project will be different and have different types of data.  Remember that a data management plan is a living document and should be reviewed and updated regularly, especially if unforeseen data are collected. 

The recommended structure for a data management plan is as follows:

  1. Project description
  2. Survey of existing data
  3. Data to be created
    1. Data organization methods (optional)
  4. Data administration issues
    1. Funding and legislative requirements
    2. Data owners and stakeholders
    3. Access and security
    4. Backups
  5. Data sharing and archiving
  6. Responsibilities
  7. Budget

There are many questions to consider when creating a data management plan.  The following list can help you to begin thinking about how you will manage your data and the answers will be useful for developing the content of a data management plan.

Data Production
  • What type(s) of data will be produced?
  • What file format(s) will the data be saved as? Are those file formats proprietary? Will they degrade over time?
  • Will the data be reproducible?
  • Do you need tools or software to create, process, or visualize the data?
Data Size
  • How much data will be generated, and at what growth rate?
  • How often will it change?
Data Usage
  • Who will potentially be using your data both now and later?
Data Retention
  • How long should it be retained? (e.g., 3-5 years, 10-20 years, permanently).  Does your institution have a data retention policy?
Privacy and Security
  • Any special privacy or security requirements? (e.g., personal data, high-security data)
Data Sharing
  • Any sharing requirements? (e.g., funder data sharing policy)
  • Have you chosen a repository in which to archive your data?
Data Management Plan
  • Does your funding agency require a data management plan in the grant proposal?
Data Documentation
  • How will you be documenting your data and project?
  • What directory and file naming convention will be used?
  • What project and data identifiers will be assigned?
  • Is there a schema, ontological, or other metadata standard in your field for sharing data with others?
Storage and Backup
  • What are the strategies for storage and backup of the data?
  • Are you aware of any institutional support backups?
  • When and where will the work be published?
  • Who in the research group will be responsible for data management?
  • Who controls the data (principal investigator, student, lab, funder)?

A selection of sites from organizations which offer information related to data management plans.

DMP Tool

DMP Tool Blog

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