Data management planning

Start writing a data management plan using DMPonline

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

Annotated DMP Templates

Annotated templates have been written using the DMPonline tool, which provides templates for structuring DMPs for major UK research funders. The documents include the guidance text provided in the tool, produced by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), the funders and the University of Sheffield Library. Use of the DMPonline tool to create a plan is highly recommended and these documents are intended to be used in conjunction with the tool. The Generic DMP template may be useful for projects supported by other funders, or for unfunded projects. These are available for:

Example Data Management Plans

Data Management Plan Compliance Rubrics

Rubrics / checklists to evaluate data management plans for compliance with the following funder’s requirements:

Guidance and suggested statements on ORDA for Data management plans / grant applications

Long term preservation and access may be best managed by using a specialist data repository. Your funder may specify a data repository to use, such as UK Data Service ReShare, NERC Data Centres or Archaeological Data Service. Alternatively, look in re3data.org, at BBSRC supported resources and at Wellcome Trust - Data repositories and database resources to find an appropriate repository. If no suitable repository is available you may deposit data in ORDA, the University of Sheffield data repository. For more information see the webpage on 'Data repositories'.

All research data selected for long-term preservation should be registered in ORDA, the University of Sheffield research data repository. A metadata record should be created in ORDA irrespective of whether the data files are deposited in ORDA or in another repository. Research data in non-digital formats and digital data that cannot be made accessible or requires controlled access should also be registered in ORDA. If you need to regulate users' access through ‘Data sharing agreements’, data may be retained in the University’s research storage infrastructure and registered in ORDA.

Please see the University of Sheffield webpage on 'ORDA user guidance'.

Standard text for DMPs and grant applications: Preservation plan & Mechanism for sharing

For data deposited in external data repositories: “Research data selected for long-term preservation and sharing will be deposited in [name of repository/weblink]. The [name of repository] is openly accessible and searchable and will guarantee preservation of these data for ten years or more. Metadata records describing these data will be created in ORDA, the University of Sheffield research data registry and repository

Where some research data are being deposited in ORDA: “Data that are not deposited in [name of repository/weblink] will be deposited in ORDA, a repository and registry of research data produced at the University of Sheffield, which will preserve data for ten years or more.

Where data is deposited in ORDA only: “Data selected for long-term preservation and sharing will be deposited in ORDA, a repository and registry of research data produced at the University of Sheffield, which will guarantee preservation for ten years or more.

Where data is being retained locally, but not made ‘openly’ accessible: “Data selected for long-term preservation and sharing will be stored on centrally provisioned University of Sheffield virtual servers and research storage infrastructure (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/cics/research) for at least ten years. Records of these data will be published in ORDA, a registry of research data produced at the University of Sheffield.

Standard text for DMPs and grant applications: Discovery by users
Suggested text in all cases: “Records of datasets will be published in ORDA, the University of Sheffield’s registry of research data produced at the University, which will issue DataCite DOIs for registered datasets and promote discovery.

For more information, see:

For further information, please contact rdm@sheffield.ac.uk