When planning research or developing a funding application, researchers need to think about how their data will be managed, stored and organised, not only during the course of the research, but also after it is completed. This RDM (Research Data Management) strategy should be formalised in a document known as a Data Management Plan (DMP). Importantly, a DMP is living document that is modified as the project evolves.
Every researcher has data, and every researcher has a workflow. Planning data management needs to become a part of that workflow, as ultimately, it will be most useful for the researcher, as it helps achieve the benefits that come with managing and sharing data. Increasingly, funding bodies and publishers mandate the submission of a DMP to ensure that data can be preserved and shared. This includes, for example, the NIH (the US National Institutes of Health). The journal Nature “encourages authors to prepare data management plans (DMPs) before conducting their research and encourages authors to make those plans available to editors, reviewers and readers who wish to assess them”. UWC’s Research Data Management Policy also encourages that all UWC researchers submit a DMP in the course of their research.
Elements of a DMP vary from broad descriptions to very technical details, and these are also discipline and data-dependent. A set of minimum elements for a DMP include:
- Data Collection
What data will you collect or create?
How will the data be collected or created?
- Documentation and Metadata
What documentation and metadata will accompany the data?
- Ethics and Legal Compliance
How will you manage any ethical issues?
How will you manage copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues?
- Storage and Backup
How will the data be stored and backed up during the research?
How will you manage access and security?
- Selection and Preservation
Which data are of long-term value and should be retained, shared, and/or preserved?
What is the long-term preservation plan for the dataset?
- Data Sharing
How will you share the data?
Are any restrictions on data sharing required?
- Responsibilities and Resources
Who will be responsible for data management?
What resources will you require to deliver your plan?
There are various DMP Resources and Tools available that make creating a DMP easier for researchers.