Research data management


Before you start to create data you will need to make a data management plan. This will allow you to make important decisions early on in the research process thus saving time and resources later on. A data management plan is also an essential part of the funding bid process. The guide and links below will help you to plan accordingly.

What is a data management plan?

A data management plan is a document which may be submitted to a research funder as an essential part of the bid process, and/or developed during research. A DMP will describe:

  • What data will be created and what existing data will be used
  • Policies which apply to the data
  • Data management practices (short and long term storage, back-up, security and access control etc.)
  • IT facilities and equipment
  • Data ownership and access
  • Defined responsibilities for data and the plan
  • Data preservation, re-use and sharing

Data Management Planning is now recognised as a vital part of the research process. It helps researchers to consider from the outset how data will be managed during the research process and shared afterwards with the wider research community.

The Digital Curation Centre have written a useful data management planning checklist and an online planning tool (DMP Online).

What does a data management plan cover?

A good data plan should cover the following (you can add more to this suggested list depending on the nature of your project):

  • What type of data will be produced? Will they be reproducible?
  • What would happen if they got lost or became unusable later?
  • How much data will be generated and how often will they change?
  • Who will be the audience for your data and how will they use them now, and in the long run?
  • Who controls them (Principal Investigator, yourself, computing officer in your school)?
  • How long should they be retained? For example, 5 years, up to 10 years, or permanently.
  • Are there tools or software needed to create, process, or visualise the data?
  • Are there any special privacy or security requirements? For example, personal data, high-security data?
  • Are there any ethics committee requirements?
  • Is there a good set of project and data documentation?
  • What directory and file naming conventions will be used?
  • What project and data identifiers will be assigned?
  • What file formats will be used? Are they long-lived?
  • What will be the storage and backup strategy?
  • When and where will the data be published?
  • Is there a discipline specific standard for data sharing/integration?

The Digital Curation Centre provide information about the DMP requirements of a range of funders.