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Data Management: Plan

Help making Data Management Plan

What Is a Data Management Plan

A data management plan (DMP) will help you manage your data, meet funder requirements, and help others use your data if shared. Data management planning is a strong step towards contributing to the broader research community by ensuring that your data are documented, preserved, and discoverable for reuse in the future. Data is valuable. Data is expensive and time-consuming to collect and even more so to replace. [is data singular or plural? look to your subject discipline guidelines for the answer]

A data management plan (DMP) helps researchers work with, manage, share, and archive their data effectively.

Data Management Plan Background

Data Management Plan (DMP) typically describes:

  • Who will take responsibility for carrying out the activities listed in the DMP
  • What data will be produced as a part of the project
  • When these activities will take place over the course of the project (and beyond) 
  • Why developing a DMP can be helpful for multiple reasons
  • How each type of data will be organized, documented, standardized, stored, protected, shared, and archived

A good DMP can help: 

  • Save time and effort: organizing data well from the beginning allows for the efficient analysis of the data.
  • Work more effectively with collaborators:  deciding early on how the data will be described and managed will facilitate the sharing and integration of the data.
  • Keep the team organized: being able to find files (data inputs, analytic scripts, outputs at various stages of the analytic process, versions, etc.) as well as avoiding data loss
  • Insure reusability:  preserving the data for easy future re-use by documenting the research and analyses carefully
  • Comply with publisher and funder requirements: funders and publishers may require a DMP and sharing data openly

Some questions to think about include:

  • What data will be generated in this project?
  • Who will be responsible for the data at each stage?
  • How will datasets need to be connected?
  • What formats will be used (Excel, MySQL, jpg, etc.)?
  • What information about the data will need to be captured so that others can understand it?
  • Where should the data be stored and who should have access to it?
  • How should the data be organized and named?
  • How will the data be published or archived at the end of the project?

Writing up the answers to these questions should form the basis of a solid data management plan.  

DMP Resources

DMPTool - a free, open-source, online application that helps researchers create data management plans, a service of the University of California Curation Center.

Funder DMP Requirements
The DMPTool maintains a list of funder data management plan requirements with templates and sample plans (if available).


ICPSR - Data Management Plans 

ICPSR is a data repository located at the University of Michigan. This site offers examples, guidance, and other resources in developing a DMP.   


NSF Engineering - NSF ENG Guidance on Data Management Plans


NASA Mission Project Data Management Plans - 
A listing of data management plans produced by some of NASA's research teams.


SPARC's list of  Data Sharing Requirements by Federal Agency