What should be in a Data Management Plan?
Funding bodies increasingly require their grant-holders to produce and maintain Data Management Plans (DMPs), both at the bid-preparation stage and after funding has been secured. They may be named 'data sharing plans' (NIH) or 'technical appendices' (AHRC for example).
Data management plans ensure that all aspects of data management are fully considered at the start of a project. They must then be continuously maintained throughout the course of the project.
Components of a Data Management Plan:
The following is an amalgam of the top headings that might be found in a Data Management Plan. Your own data plan may differ from this.
1. Project Description
2. Survey of existing data - what existing data will need to be managed?
3. Data to be created - what data will your project create?
4. Data Organisation Methods (optional) - How will you name your data files? How will you organise your data into folders? How will you manage transfers and synchronisation of data between different machines? How will you manage collaborative writing with your colleagues? How will you keep track of the different versions of your data files and documents?
5. Data Administration Issues
a) Funding and Legislative Requirements - You have a responsibility to make yourself aware of any relevant codes and to comply with them.
b) Data owners and Stakeholders - Who will own the data created, and who would be interested in it?
c) Access and Security - Who will have access to your data? If the data is sensitive, how will you protect it from unauthorised access?
d) Backups - This is probably the single most important item on this list. Hard drives on desktop and laptop computers fail regularly. Rather than relying on memory, consider an automated backup process.
6. Data Sharing and Archiving - What data will you share with others? How will you do this?
7. Responsibilities -Who will be responsible for each of the items in this plan?
8. Budget - What will this plan cost? Possible costs include hardware for backups, research assistant time for data curation, metadata creation, archiving etc.
Further help in preparing your data management plan
DMP Online (Data Management Planning online) - build and edit DMPs with a view to the requirements stipulated by the major UK funders
DCC's Detailed overview of UK Research Funders' expectations for what to include in a DMP, Spring 2010
RELU Data Management Plan - The Cross-council (ESRC, NERC and BBSRC) Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme provides a good example of best practice in data management. Applicants to the ESRC for example are encouraged to consult the experience gained in the RELU programme in developing and subsequently implementing data management plans - www.esds.ac.uk/aandp/create/dataman.asp