"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first hour sharpening the axe."
- Abraham Lincoln
Data management planning is the structured way of thinking about the research data you are going to collect. What type of research data will the research project produce? What format will you use? How will you store them and how can they be accessed? By thinking about these questions(1) at an early stage and documenting your answers you will avert future problems as a researcher.
One of the ways to think about the data collecting process is by using a format: a data management plan (DMP). These formats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the research discipline, requirements from the research funder and local initiatives.
A data management plan can be a separate document. It helps the researcher identify and list the risks with regard to management of research data during the entire research process. Because not everything is known from the outset it is recommended to treat the DMP as a "living document", which can be revised and detailed periodically as the project goes forward.
Nowadays, research funders often require that a data management plan is included in the project proposal. In that case the research proposal contains a data section or a DMP is included as an annex. For research funders the reason behind it is to promote open access to research data. In their opinion research data, produced in the context of a publicly funded research project, should be freely made available for reuse and verification. Cases of data manipulation and sloppy science emphasize the importance of access to the original data. A popular notion in this context is FAIR(a): in principle, research data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.(b)
In the video below, we have listed what a data management plan is, what its advantages are and an example will be given of a format and a completed DMP.
RDNL-Video about the what, why and how of data management planning;
use HD quality for the best viewing experience.
The Digital Curation Centre’s Checklist(c) for a Data Management Plan provides a useful list of questions to consider when writing a DMP:
- What data will you collect or create?
- How will the data be collected or created?
- What documentation and metadata will accompany the data?
- How will you manage any ethical issues?
- How will you manage copyright and intellectual property rights issues?
- How will the data be stored and backed up during research?
- How will you manage access and security?
- Which data should be retained, shared, and/or preserved?
- What is the long-term preservation plan for the dataset?
- How will you share the data?
- Are any restrictions on data sharing required?
- Who will be responsible for data management?
- What resources will you require to implement your plan?
Cases involving requirements from research funders
Below you will find some examples of research funders and their requirements with regard to a data management plan or a data section. The institutes usually supplies this information directly to the researchers, but data suporters can expect to be asked questions about it by researchers.