Data management planning
What is research data management planning?
A data management plan (DMP) describes how you will collect, organise, manage, store, secure, backup, preserve, and where applicable, share your data. A data management plan should be created at the start of a research project so that good practices are established early. The earlier you start thinking about managing your research data, the easier it will be.
Most research funders, including all the UK Research Councils, require a data management plan for each project they fund.
A data management plan will:
- Help you to identify risks to your data early in your research project
- Document your compliance with institutional and funder policies and ethics approval requirements
- Help you to think about data sharing and reuse opportunities of your research data
- Help you to keep your research data useful and stored safely for future use
How to write a data management plan
The key issues to address will vary depending on the nature of your research, but you may wish to consider the following:
- What data will you collect or create?
- How will the data be collected or created?
- What documentation and metadata will accompany the data?
- How will you manage any ethical issues?
- How will you manage copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues?
- How will the data be stored and backed up during the research?
- How will you manage access and security?
- Which data should be retained, shared, and/or preserved?
- What is the long-term preservation plan for the dataset?
- How will you share the data?
- Are any restrictions on data sharing required?
- Who will be responsible for data management?
- What resources will you require to deliver your plan?
Your plan should be proportionate to the size of the project too: a 20-year cohort study will require more depth than a 3-month pilot.
Templates and examples
The best place to start when writing a DMP is the DMPonline tool from the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), which:
- Has templates for most of the UK, EU and US funders, plus a generic template suitable for any project
- Provides expert guidance from the DCC for each section of each template along with guidance from the funder where available
- Exports in a variety of formats, including PDF and Microsoft Word
- Allows collaborative editing of the plan with colleagues within and outside the University
- Is integrated with the University of Sheffield single sign-on
For more information, see:
- How to develop a data management plan (Digital Curation Centre) — includes a checklist and examples
- Your funder’s website
For further information, please contact email@example.com