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Research Data Management: Data Management Plan

Data Management Plan

A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a document that sets out how you will organize, store, and share your research data throughout each stage of your research project. It is a living document that can be modified to accommodate changes over the course of your research.

A growing number of funding agencies are requiring researchers to submit a data management plan alongside their grant applications. Tri-Agency of Canada states that researchers should develop "data management plans to guide the responsible collection, formatting, preservation and sharing of their data throughout the entire lifecycle of a research project and beyond". 

This short video From NYU Health Sciences Library explains what can go wrong without a data management plan.


Why is a data management plan important?

  • To ensure that your research data will be accessible and usable in the future - by yourself and by others.
  • To create and maintain a permanent archive of the data that supports your research findings.
  • To meet funding agency and/or publisher requirements for data accessibility.

The Digital Curation Centre’s Checklist for a Data Management Plan provides a useful list of questions to consider when writing a DMP:

Data Collection

  • What data will you collect or create?
  • How will the data be collected or created?

Documentation and Metadata

  • What documentation and metadata (description of data) will accompany the data?

Ethics and Legal Compliance

  • How will you manage any ethical issues, e.g. anonymisation, consent agreements, and sharing/privacy? 
  • How will you manage copyright and intellectual property rights issues?

Storage and Backup

  • How will the data be stored and backed up during research?
  • How will you manage access and security?

Selection and Preservation

  • Which data should be retained, shared, and/or preserved?
  • What is the long-term preservation plan for the dataset?

Data Sharing

  • How will you share the data?
  • Are any restrictions on data sharing required?

Responsibilities and Resources

  • Who will be responsible for data management?
  • What resources will you require to implement your plan? 

There are a few tools to assist you in creating DMPs.

DMP Assistant:

DMP Assistant is a free online tool specifically for Canadian scholars and aims to meet the data accessibility requirements of Tri-Agency funding. Developed by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, it follows best practices in data management and walks researchers step-by-step through key questions of data management, and provides a generic template for researchers to use. 

How to use DMP Assistant:

1. Create an account: https://assistant.portagenetwork.ca/

2. Sign in and select a template under Organizations. There are several templates available - the default "Portage" template should be able to meet your data management requirements.

3. Answer the questions - Guidance and examples are provided.

4. Export or print your plan, and/or revise the plan in your research process.

Three Additional DMP Tools: below are two free online applications that help researchers create data management plans.

DMP Tool: jointly developed by eight institutions in US in 2011. It provides detailed guidance and links to general and institutional resources and walks a researcher through the process of generating a comprehensive plan tailored to specific DMP requirements.

DMPonline: jointly developed by the Digital Curation Centre of UK and the University of California Curation Center. There are a number of templates within the tool based on the requirements of different funders and institutions.  Guidance is provided to help researchers interpret and answer the questions.

DMP Template for the Social Sciences: This template was developed in the project e-infrastructures Austria-Plus, created by AUSSDA - The Austrian Social Sciences Data Archive and WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Below is a list of examples of Data Management Plans:

Portage DMP Exemplars (Listed under More Resources)
Include three DMP exemplars on digital humanities, use of secondary data, and mixed methods.

Technical plan submitted to the AHRC
A DMP submitted by a researcher from the University of Bristol, also including comments from the reviewers.

Two social science DMPs
Example plans from researchers at the University of Leeds, shared as part of the Leeds RoaDMaP training materials.

NSF data management plans
5 DMPs submitted to the National Science Foundation of the US, shared by the DataOne initiative.

Many researchers make their DMPs public, and you may find public DMPs on DMP Tool. However, it should be noted that they are not reviewed for quality or completeness.