Why write a research data management plan?
Many funders now require a research data management plan to be included in applications for grants and there is an RCUK set of principles for data. There is also a growing trend towards sharing data – some journals such as Science require this and it is useful to think about this in at the start of your research. If you are working collaboratively it is helpful to make sure everyone understands how data will be collected, who is responsible, how it will be stored etc. Research data can be anything used in research, qualitative as well as quantitative and requirements do not only apply to the sciences.

Data Management Planning online tools

DMPOnline from the DCC will help you to produce plans tailored for major UK funders
Data Management Planning tool from University of California Curation Center tailored for US funders

What needs to be included in a plan?
Exact requirements will vary between funders and disciplines but there are some key elements to consider:

  • The project and its context – why and how your data is going to be created.
  • Data formats – you will need to consider any software you will be using, how useable that might be in future, how your data will be structured, documented and quality checked so that it is intelligible to others.
  • Ethical considerations – this can vary from considering whether you have obtained consent from research subjects to use their data to who might own the intellectual property in any data you produce.
  • Storage – both short and long term storage needs to be considered. You may decide to use one method while you are working on a project but use another if you need to store the data long term as many funders require. Storage needs to be secure and viable for the long term.
  • Reuse – consider whether you will be making the data open access or available on request and how this will be managed.
  • Resource issues – consider whether there will be any costs involved in managing your data and include this in your grant application where possible. The UK Data Archive have a tool which can be useful in considering research data costs.

The UK Digital Curation Centre have a useful checklist for data management plans.

Example plans

Further Reading & Resources


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