Data Management Plans

A data management plan or DMP, describes how research data will be generated, described, stored, and made accessible. DMPs are often required as part of grant proposals.
Most agencies ask for some common elements about data, such as type, format, and amount of data; how it will be described, organized, stored, backed up, archived and made publicly accessible; who will be responsible for taking care of the data; what costs are associated with the management of the data; and are any issues anticipated regarding the reuse of data.

Common Components

Expected Data

Describe the types of data you will collect or produce (format, quantity, size).Where will data be stored and backed up? See Storing & Archiving Data for tips.

What data will you generate? Survey data? Observational data? Simulations? Images? 

Your data management plan should describe the the type of data, how it will be captured and the format. For example, "Survey data will be collected via Qualtrics survey software.  It will be downloaded and saved in CSV format."    

What equipment will be used to generate data?

Describe how many much data you expect to generate. Describe this for each type of data you expect to generate.  A table can be a very nice way to compile this information when you have several different data types.

If special software programs are required to generate data, include these in this section as well.

Best practice is to save your data to standard formats that most software is capable of interpreting.  See File Formats for a list of best formats for various data types.

Data & Metadata Standards

How will you describe your data?
Does the repository you will use have a metadata standard (e.g., Darwin Core, EML)? For example, DigitalCommons@USU uses Dublin Core.
Metadata & Describing Data has resources to help you with this.

Policies for Access and Sharing

What are your plans for sharing and providing access to your data?
Are any of your data restricted, due to IP, Export Control, or Confidentiality?
When will you make your data available to others? At time of article publication? As soon as data is collected?

Policies for Reuse

Will you place any restrictions on your data?  If so, what are the restrictions and why are they needed?  Can you identify the most likely users of your data?  

Plans for Archiving and Preservation

Where will you archive your data?  What is the name of the repository?  What data from your project will you archive?  All of it?

For more information about archiving your data, see Storing & Archiving Data, which has information about locating data repositories and depositing data into Digital Commons, and Agency Data Repositories, which has information about agency requirements for depositing data from funded research.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Data stored on a locally-based server DOES NOT MEET USU’s obligation for permanent public access. Data that results from a federally funded research project must to be transferred to a public repository, discipline-specific repository, or DigitalCommons@USU to meet this obligation.

Roles and Responsibilities

Who will be responsible for managing and backing up data?  For depositing it into the repository? Who is responsible for ensuring the terms of the DMP are followed?  What will happen if the PI leaves the institution?

Most Data Management Plans templates suggest adding a section on "Roles and Responsibilities."  Best practice is to clearly plan and define who in the research process will be responsible for various aspects of data management.  Examples of roles include:

  • Data collector
  • Metadata generator
  • Project director
  • Person/people responsible for data backup during project
  • Person/people responsible for submitting data to archive and/or repositories

For each task, it's best to name the staff who will perform it.  Make sure they have the appropriate skills, and if they don't, provide training.  This should be incorporated into your budget.

For more information on roles and responsibilities, you can read DataONE's Best Practices.

Determining the Cost of Managing Your Data

Many funding agencies do allow you to include the costs of managing your data in your proposal. Creating, processing, sharing, storing and preserving data is expensive.  Calculating this cost requires some thought.

Indicating you have considered the costs associated with managing your data is important.  Costs should be considered in terms of human resources (to prepare and document data) and fees for storage. The UK Data Services, an organization in the United Kingdom that delivers services to access, manage, and deposit data, provides some guidance on their web site Costing data management.

They have created a costing tool worksheet you can use to calculate the costs of typical data management activities.

DMP Tool

The DMP Tool helps researchers create data management plans (DMPs).  Log in with your A# and strong password.  The DMP Tool provides templates with agency specific guidance for several federal sponsors.

The DMP Tool allows you to work through the elements of a DMP to document the necessary information for your sponsor.  In addition to instructions, links are provided to the agency's guidance and local resources. When done, you can export your DMP as a Word file or a PDF.  The DMP is saved to your account so you may refer to it in the future.

Typical Components

The DMP Tool provides a general overview on these typical components of a data management plan:

For more information, check out the DMP Tool Quick Start Guide or look at ASU's DMP LibGuide.