DMP basics

Data management planning is a strong step towards contributing to the broader research community by ensuring that your data are documented, preserved, and discoverable for reuse in the future. 

Planning the management and sharing of your research data does not mean that you don't get a 'first crack' at using the data. In fact, part of data management planning is defining access controls and terms of use for your data, while recognizing that in the future others may find your data useful, even critical for their research.

A data management plan (DMP) helps researchers work with, manage, share, and archive their data effectively.  A DMP typically describes:

  • What data will be produced as a part of the project
  • How each type of data will be organized, documented, standardized, stored, protected, shared, and archived
  • Who will take responsibility for carrying out the activities listed above, and
  • When these activities will take place over the course of the project (and beyond) 

Developing a DMP can be helpful for multiple reasons.  A good DMP can help: 

  • Save time and effort: Organizing your data well from the beginning allows you to efficiently analyze your data.
  • Work more effectively with collaborators:  Deciding early on how you and others in the lab will describe and manage your data will facilitate the sharing and integration of your data. 
  • Insure reusability:  Preserve your data for easy future re-use by yourself or others by documenting your research and analyses carefully.
  • Comply with publisher and funder requirements: Increasingly, funders and publishers may require you to have a DMP and share data openly.

Some questions for you to think about are:

  • What data will be generated in this project?
  • Who will be responsible for the data at each stage?
  • How will datasets need to be connected?
  • What formats will be used (Excel, MySQL, jpg, etc.)?
  • What information about the data will need to be captured so that others can understand it?
  • Where should the data be stored and who should have access to it?
  • How should the data be organized and named?
  • How will the data be published or archived at the end of the project?

Writing up the answers to these questions should form the basis of a solid data management plan.  See "DMP Resources" for examples and guides on putting together a DMP. 

The DMPTool
The DMPTool is designed to help researchers develop a data management plan that meets the requirements of a particular funding agency. Look here for ideas on what to include in your DMP.

Funder DMP Requirements
The DMPTool maintains a list of funder data management plan requirements with templates and sample plans (if available).

CMU Data Management Planning
Additional resources regarding data management planning at CMU.

ICPSR - Data Management Plans
ICPSR is a data repository located at the University of Michigan. Their site offers examples, guidance and other resources in developing a DMP.

Purdue Data Management Plan Guide
A guide to developing a DMP created by the Purdue Libraries. Resources include examples, worksheets, and links to numerous resources.