Create a Data Management Plan
Note: this is a general outline. See funder requirements for more information and check for more specific guidance from your grant's funding opportunity announcement.
Data management plans usually include the following:
- Describe the data that your research will generate/collect.
Data may originate from observations, experiments, references, and may be derived from other sources, transformed, or the result of a simulation.
In addition to describing the types of data, you should also describe the formats for the files in which the data will be stored, maintained, and made available. Whenever possible, non-proprietary formats should be used, or data converted to more open, shareable formats, especially when archiving data or depositing it in a data center or repository.
- Describe how you will annotate and/or describe the data, including the metadata standards and tools (if any) that will be employed.
Descriptions/annotations of your data (also known as metadata) is important because it can help you and others locate, understand, and interpret your data. It is useful during the research process, and is also a critical component of systems for publicizing and sharing data with others. Lab and field notebooks contain valuable information and transcribing that information into the metadata used in data repositories will extend its usefulness.
You should describe the applicable standards for metadata content and format that you will follow, including the procedures and tools/software you will use to capture and edit the metadata.
- How will the data be organized, stored and protected during the research project?
Describe the storage methods and backup procedures for the data, including the physical and cyber resources and facilities that will be used for the effective preservation and storage of the research data. Include a description of the facilities and equipment will be required (hard-disk space, backup server, repository). For sensitive data, describe what measures will be taken for protection of privacy and confidentiality. Also consider security, intellectual property and other rights.
- How will the data be shared with others, during and/or after the project?
NSF and other agencies are emphasizing open access to data. It is to your advantage to deposit your research data in data centers or repositories that facilitate access, with descriptive information to enable finding, persistent identifiers (DOIs or other links), along with links between the data and articles and other publications.
Describe what you will do to provide access to the data during and/or at the conclusion of the research project. This should include a description and rationale for any restrictions on who may access the data and under what conditions, and a timeline for providing access. Also include information on the resources (equipment, connections, systems, expertise, repositories, etc.) that will be needed to meet anticipated requests.
- Where and how will the data be archived/preserved for long-term access?
Describe your plans for preserving data in accessible form. Plans should include a timeline proposing how long the data are to be preserved, outlining any changes in access anticipated during the preservation timeline, and documenting the resources and capabilities (e.g., equipment, connections, systems, expertise) needed to meet the preservation goals. Where data will be preserved beyond the duration of direct project funding, a description of other funding sources or institutional commitments necessary to achieve the long-term preservation and access goals should be provided.
Frequently there is an overlap between preservation and data sharing (#4 above), because deposit of data in many repositories entails preservation, and provides open access to the data sets. Keep in mind, however, that you may also want to preserve some unpublished/unshared data beyond the grant funding cycle, due to confidentiality or other concerns.