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Data management plans

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A Data Management Plan (DMP) typically outlines what research data will be created during the course of a research project and how it will be created, plans for sharing and preserving the data and any restrictions that may need to be applied.

Data management plans Guide

Significant technical and human effort has been, and continues to be, directed towards the development and use of DMPs for research. These efforts are driven by a number of factors:

  • an increasing number of research funders, such as the National Science Foundation, ask researchers to provide a Data Management Plan
  • Institutions are looking to provide DMP tools to their researchers for a range of reasons such as risk management, to provide a useful planning tool, and to collect information that enables them to plan technical and human support.

Some institutions, such as Curtin University, are making DMPs mandatory for researchers under certain conditions. Others, such as the University of Colorado, sponsor a competition for the best DMP.

Next generation approaches

While there is still an open question about the efficacy of DMPs, work continues on from multiple fronts to improve them and employ them in a way that truly supports the research enterprise. Institutions are beginning to move from those long early versions of DMPs to a next generation of DMP tools and approaches that consider whether DMPs can or should be:

  • public not private documents 
  • machine readable as well as human readable
  • flexible living documents that can be changed through the course of a research project
  • measurable (i.e. did researcher X do what they said they would do in their DMP?)
  • connected to at least one other system rather than stand alone forms.

A report on Machine-actionable Data Management Plans (maDMPs) by Stephanie Simms, Sarah Jones, Daniel Mietchen and Tomasz Miksa reflects collective thinking on this next generation approach.

Data Management Plans (DMP) Interest Group

In response to the rethinking of Data Management Plans, a DMP Interest Group was formed in February 2017 and meets online on a bimonthly basis. The Group is facilitated by ANDS and open to anybody interested in DMPs, DMP tools and their effectiveness. The Group provides a forum for discussion about local DMP tools and approaches as well as international developments.

Examples of data management plans

Data management plans Guide