A data management plan is a formal statement describing how you will manage and document data in a research project, and how you will ensure long-term preservation. Researchers should consider data management planning for very good reasons , as this practice:
- Improves efficiency in research
- Ensures information is protected
- Allows results to be checked by others
- Improves exposure via sharing
- Allows you to comply with funders’ policies.
Data management plans are increasingly required by research funders. Principal investigators are often expected to submit one at the research proposal stage and maintain it after obtaining funding. Examples of data management plans for the most common research funders in the UK are available on the Digital Curation Centre website.
Data management plans should be clear and concise, proportionate, focussed, and structured . You should not approach data management planning rigidly, as projects have different durations, output types, team structures, responsibilities, and more.
Getting help in preparing a research data management plan
The UK-based DMPOnline (and its US counterpart DMPTool ) provides a step-by-step wizard to build a data management plan tailored to your needs and compliant with your funder’s requirements. Not everyone in a project will be familiar with all questions in the template, so it is important to have access to project partners and local specialists when needed.
For a checklist of topics to keep in mind when preparing your plan, we recommend you look at this document prepared by the Australian National Data Service.