What should be included in a data management plan? Funding agencies, e.g., the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), may have specific requirements for plan content. There are fundamental data management principles that apply to most disciplines, formats, and projects. A data management plan will help you to manage your data for your own use, as well as to meet a funder requirement or enable data sharing in the future. Generally, a data management plan should contain the following components:
- Description of the project: e.g., purpose of the research, organization(s) and staff involved
- Description of the data to be collected: e.g., the nature and format of the data, how it will be collected, and overview of secondary data available on the topic
- Standards to be applied for formats, metadata, etc.
- Plans for short-term storage and data management: e.g., file formats, local storage and back up procedures, and security
- Legal and ethical issues: e.g., intellectual property, confidentiality of study participants
- Access policies and provisions: i.e., how will you make it available to others, any restrictions needed, etc.
- Provisions for long-term archiving and preservation: e.g., in a data archive
- Assigned data management responsibilities: i.e., which persons will actually be responsible for ensuring data management; how will compliance with this plan be monitored and ensured over time?
- For a more complete list of things that you want to consider in managing your data, see the data planning checklist.
Resources for Creating Plans
The resources below serve as good general models for any project (even if they were created for particular programs or funders):