Data Management Plans - content

Data Management Plans - content

4. What does a data management plan cover?

There are nine key sections to include within a DMP.  These are:

1)     Project information and context

This section simply describes the project being undertaken, who is involved, when the research will take place, and which body or bodies are funding it: essentially, information that is used for a variety of purposes.  Specific to the DMP is a note of whether the funder or your associated institution has any specific data management requirements that need attention.

2)     Data, materials, resource collection information

It is important to be clear about what data you will be collecting, and how you will go about doing this.  Additional considerations relate to whether the data is unique or derived, in digital or non-digital form, and how the data will be quality assured and demonstrate value.  Information on any intended associated documentation that helps to explain the data can also be captured here.

3)     Ethics and intellectual property

If data is being collected involving people it is important to be clear about the ethics and privacy involved.  It is also important to check compliance with other areas of relevant legislation.  If working in partnership, clarity of practice across the partners will be important to establish.

4)     Access and use of information

Whether required by a funder or not, considering how your data may by accessed and used by others (with acknowledgement) will be important to make sure it can be shared effectively.

5)     Storage and backup of data

Storing data can seem straightforward in this computing age.  However, it is important to consider how you will store the data during and after the research, how it will be backed-up, and how you will manage different versions as these evolve.

6)     Archiving and future proofing of information

Specific consideration will need to be given about what happens to the data after the research is completed and how it continues to be managed, if appropriate.  Key to this is also how the data should be cited.

7)     Resourcing of data management

This section is used to formally list those people who have responsibility for managing the data or assisting with this in some way.  It is also where specific funding issues relating to data management can be held.

8)     Review of data management process

A place to note how the DMP will be put into action, and how the actions described will be adhered to.

9)     Statement(s) of agreement and expertise

Noting the responsibilities described in section 7 and the review process in section 8, the final section comprises a set of signed agreements from the individuals concerned to give backing to the actions in the DMP.  It is also a space to list known expertise in different areas of data management so these can be referenced as required.

A DMP template comprising these sections, and with attached guidance notes, is available here or from the left-hand menu.  This is not intended to be any straightjacket in formulating your own plan, but is provided as an aid in ensuring all the appropriate areas are properly covered. 

An online version of the plan is also available as part of the DMPOnline tool provided by the Digital Curation Centre.  This is a general tool, but a history-specific template has been applied.  It is also possible to apply funder-specific templates to ensure you are addressing the particular requirements they have.