What is a data management plan?
Simply put, a data management plan is a document that clearly and succinctly describes the data that will be generated during a research project and explains how investigators will preserve and manage the data and subsequently make it accessible over the long-term.
Although the requirements for the data management plan vary from one federal agency to another, there are some general guidelines that apply across all agencies. Data management plans typically describe the following elements:
- the types of data to be authored;
- the standards that would be applied, for example format and metadata content;
- provisions for archiving and preservation;
- access policies and provisions; and
- plans for eventual transition or termination of the data collection in the long-term future
(DataONE, “Data Management Planning”).
How do I develop a federally compliant data management plan?
Start by reading DataONE’s Primer on Data Management and/or Data Management Guide for Public Participation in Scientific Research. These clear, short, must-read guides provide an excellent overview and step-by-step description of the entire data life cycle: planning, collecting, assuring, describing, preserving, discovering, integrating, analyzing. The guide “includes examples from federal research projects, as well as links to best practices and tools to help project organizers optimize the quality, usability, and accessibility of their project data” .
Use the DMPTool to build a data management plan for your proposal.
The Data Management Planning Tool (DMPTool) is a fantastic online resource that walks you through each step of building a data management plan for a number of federal funding agencies. Specifically, the DMPTool enables you to:
- Create ready-to-use data management plans for specific funding agencies.
- Meet funder requirements for data management plans.
- Get step-by-step instructions and guidance for your data management plan as you build it.
- Learn about resources and services available at your institution to help fulfill the data management requirements of your grant .
The DMPTool also allows you to save, preview, and export your plans, as well as share them publicly.
Sample data management plans
DataOne offers several sample NSF data management plans that comply with the new federal requirements:
- Atmospheric CO2 concentrations, Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, 2011-2013
- Rio Grande Basin hydrologic geodatabase compendium
- Improving the long-term preservability of HDF-formatted data by creating maps to file contents
- Arthropod responses to grassland nutrient limitation
- Effects of temperature and salinity on population growth of the estuarine copepod, Eurytemora affinis
Additional data management plan resources
Rice Digital Scholarship Archive — Serves as Rice’s institutional repository, offering a space where the university’s intellectual output is shared, managed, searched, and preserved. Most materials come from Rice faculty members' research, electronic theses and dissertations, and digitized collections of rare or unique books, images, musical performances, and manuscripts.
- Andrea Wiggins, Rick Bonney, Eric Graham, et al. 2013. Data Management Guide for Public Participation in Scientific Research, DataONE, p. 1.
- DataONE, Data Management Planning.