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Research Data Management

Introductory information and links for deeper investigation on research data management topics. Guide 3 of a 3-part series.

Data Management Plans

What is a Data Management Plan? (DMPs)

A Data Management Plan (DMP) describes your data, how you will treat your data during your project, and what happens with your data when the project ends. DMPs should touch on the entire data life cycle—from data discovery/collection, to organization, documentation and storage, and finally to preservation and sharing. Think of a DMP as both a required document for grants and a living document for your research planning process.

Typical Pieces of a Good Data Management Plan:
  1. Types of data used, in detail, and how it was collected
  2. Detailed metadata standards and supporting documents
  3. Clear data policies, ethics, and legal compliance
  4. Plans for preservation and data sharing, both short-term and long-term
  5. Resources needed to accomplish data management - personnel, hardware, software, budget

Why do I Need a Data Management Plan?

Formally articulating these things helps you identify weaknesses in your research plan and is a critical component of ensuring that your research is repeatable, replicable, and reproducible. Practically speaking, many funding agencies, including most of the federal government, require a DMP with every funding request. Funders are also increasingly requiring your to share your data (learn more from our Open Data page).

How do I Write a Data Management Plan?

  1. DMPTool LogoCreate your plan using DMPTool - a free online tool which uses a click-through wizard and funder-based templates to guide you in creating a DMP that complies with specific funder requirements. It also has direct links to funder websites, help text for answering questions, and data management best practices resources.
  2. Learn more about what should be in your DMP using these resources:

What's included in a DMP (overview)?

  • Name of the data set
  • The name(s) of the data file(s) in the data set
  • Date the date set was last modified
  • Example data file records for each data type file
  • Pertinent companion files
  • List of related data sets
  • Software, including version number used to prepare/read the data set
  • Data processing that was performed
  • Who collected
  • Who to contact with questions
  • Funders
  • Can your data be re-used by others?
  • How will your data be accessible? For how long? Where?
  • Scientific reason why the data were collected
  • What data were collected (experimental, measures, observational, model simulation, existing, etc.)
  • What instruments (including model and serial number) were used
  • Environmental conditions during collection
  • Temporal and spatial resolution
  • Standards or calibrations used
  • How each was measured or produced
  • Units of measure
  • Format used in the data set
  • Precision and accuracy, if known
  • Definitions of codes used
  • Quality assurance and control measures
  • Known problems that limit data use (uncertainty or sampling problems)
  • Protection/Privacy/Security - including ethical issues (IRB, HIPPA, IACUC, anonymization)

Research Development Lunch & Learn: Introduction to Data Management (recording)

Click on the image below, or on this link, to view the recorded session on Data Management Plans in collaboration with Ohio University Office of Research.

first slide on introduction to data management plans. click to link to recorded session which opens in new window.