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Data Management Planning

Why do I Need a Data Management Plan?

Every research project that involves the collection and use of research data should have a data management plan (DMP). This is a structured document describing how data will be created, managed and used during the life of a research project, and beyond with plans for data sharing and preservation.

A DMP can enable you and your project team to work efficiently, to identify requirements and manage risks, and to apply appropriate solutions. DMPs are required at LSBU for all externally funded research projects and for doctoral students at the RES2 stage.

You may have been required to submit a DMP as part of a grant application, and this can be a useful starting point for project planning, but the DMP that is a practical instrument for your project will still need to be developed. The project and data management requirements can change over time.

What is in a Data Management Plan?

A DMP will generally cover the following:

  • Description of data to be collected / created (i.e. content, type, format, volume...)
  • Standards / methodologies for data collection & management 
  • Ethics and Intellectual Property (highlight any restrictions on data sharing e.g. embargoes, confidentiality)
  • Plans for data sharing and access   (i.e. how, when, to whom)
  • Strategy for long-term preservation

DMPs should be different for each project, as projects rarely have exactly the same requirements as each other!

Some examples of DMPs can be found on the Digital Curation Centre website.

 

Data Management Planning Tools

You should use a DMP template to structure your plan and ensure you cover all aspects of data management. When writing a grant application, the funder will often provide a template for the plan.

Not all funders provide a DMP template, and if that is the case then you should use LSBU’s DMP template. Your project page should have an option to add a Data Management Plan which will take you through LSBU’s standard DMP. It may be that when you start the project that you want to update your plan from the one in the application, and you can use LSBU’s template.

Funder templates can also be found on DMPOnline, which also gives the option to share your draft plan.

Tips for Writing a Data Management Plan

Creating a project DMP means that it will work for you – it needs to be tailored to be something that you can follow, not just re-using a plan from elsewhere!

  • Always create a DMP for the project - even if data management seems simple and straightforward. You will find there is a lot more to even basic data management once you start thinking it through.
  • If the research is a team project, develop the DMP as a team. The DMP should have an owner (e.g. the project PI) and be developed with the input of everyone in the team who is involved in data management.
  • Add as much detail as you need. The important thing is that the DMP is a practical resource for the project. This may involve recording considerable detail, e.g. about file organisation and naming, data processing instructions, etc. Imagine what would happen if a key member of the team left and someone else had to take over their data management responsibilities. What exactly would they need to know?
  • Make data sharing central to the plan. Your DMP should identify the repository or repositories in which your data will be deposited for long-term preservation and public sharing at the end of the project, and you should factor into your plan time towards the end of the project to prepare data for archiving. Remember that LSBU Open Research can be a home for your data.
  • If you will be collecting data from research participants, make sure that your data management will comply with research ethics and data protection requirements. Ensure that your recruitment and consent procedures maximise opportunities for future data sharing.
  • If the research is undertaken in collaboration or partnership with other organisations, clarify issues relating to intellectual property rights and public sharing of data. Most research contracts have standard IP and Publication clauses, vesting ownership of IP in the originating party or parties, and requiring any party to give appropriate notice to the other parties of any intended publication.
  • Use the DMP: don't just file it and forget it. Ensure team members are aware of and follow the plan, and review the plan on a regular basis, updating it as the project progresses. It could be a standing item on the agenda for project team meetings.

Contact

If you need help writing your project DMP, or would like your DMP to be reviewed, contact researchdata@lsbu.ac.uk