Data Management Plans: A Comprehensive Guide for Researchers

This guide outlines the main areas that researchers should consider when preparing a Data Management Plan (DMP). It includes information on the data specification, institutional repositories, long-term preservation services, IT infrastructure requirements and more.

Data Management Plans: A Comprehensive Guide for Researchers

Data Management Plans (DMPs) are documents prepared by researchers as they plan a project and write a grant proposal. These plans provide an outline of the types of data that will be collected, the data format, including data and metadata standards, and how the data will be handled throughout the project lifecycle. Many research funders require a data management plan with a grant proposal, so it is important for researchers to understand the main areas to consider when preparing one. This guide outlines the main areas that researchers should consider when preparing a data management plan.

It includes information on the data specification, including size, file format, number of files, data dictionary, and codebook. It also covers the use of institutional data repositories hosted in university libraries as an open access platform for the dissemination and archiving of university research data. Additionally, it provides information on long-term preservation of digital data files using services such as migration (limited format types), secure backups, bit-level checksums, and maintaining a persistent DOI for data sets. When a project includes data about people and organizations, this affects the design of the necessary IT infrastructure.

It is expected that the full dataset will be accessible after the study and all related publications are completed, and will remain accessible for at least 10 years after the data become publicly available. This section includes a description of the format of your data and how it will be created, collected, maintained and delivered. In addition, information from individuals or entities that own the intellectual property rights to the data should be included in this section. SPARC (the Academic Resources and Academic Publications Coalition) has compiled an excellent resource with information on the data management and data exchange requirements of all federal funding agencies.

ICPSR allows several mediated forms of exchange, where individuals interested in obtaining a less de-identified individual level would sign data use agreements before receiving the data, or would need to use special software to access it directly from ICPSR instead of downloading it, for security reasons. Some demographics may not be shareable on an individual level and would therefore only be provided in aggregate form. Finally, all applicants submitting funding proposals to the MRC must include a Data Management Plan (DMP) as an integral part of the application. Through DRUM policies, unidentified data will be accompanied by appropriate documentation, metadata and code to facilitate reuse and provide the potential for interoperability with similar datasets. The main benefit of DRUM is that everything shared through this repository is public; however, a fully open system is not optimal if any of the data can be identified.