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Research Data Management

This guide will assist researchers in planning for the various stages of managing their research data and in preparing data management plans required with funding proposals.

What is a data management plan?

A data management plan is a document that explains how data will be collected, organized, stored, and documented throughout the life of a research project. DMPs also provide information about how research data will be shared with other researchers and the general public, and how the data will be handled to guarantee its long term preservation

Data Management Plan requirements

Funders are increasingly requiring grant applicants to submit data management plans (DMPs) with their grant proposals, in an effort to promote data sharing and responsible stewardship of data by researchers. Funder requirements have been compiled on a number of web pages:

DMP Tool provides one of the best lists of DMP Requirements (DMP Tool)

NC State University Libraries has one of the more comprehensive lists of Funding Agency Guidelines for Public Access

Each directorate of the National Science Foundation has it own data management plan guidelines.

If you project is funded by a contract, you should consult the contracting agency or refer to the terms of you contract to determine if a data management plan is required.

Creating Your Data Management Plan

Components of a Data Management Plan

The components of your specific data management plan will depend on the nature of your research project and any funder requirements to which you may need to adhere. However, there are some common components to data management plans. It may be useful to think about these before you begin writing up your plan. 

Data Types and Collection
  • What type(s) of data wil be collected or generated? (Observational, experimental, derived or compiled, etc.)
  • What form does the data take? (Text, numeric, audiovisual, geospatial, etc.)
  • How will this data be collected or created? (Sensor readings, model simulations, text mining, etc.)
Metadata and Documentation 
  • What file formats will your data be stored in? (.txt, JPEG, MP4, etc.)
  • What form will your documentation and metadata take?
  • Which metadata standards will you use? 
  • What background or contextual information is needed to make your data usable and interpretable by others? 
Storage and Backup
  • How wil your data be stored and backed up during your research project?
  • Who is responsible for maintaining storage and backup?
  • How will you manage access and security?
Sharing and Archiving
  • Which data are of long-term value and will be retained, shared, and preserved? 
  • What resources will future researchers need to make use of your data? (E.g. is proprietary software required?)
  • How will you share your data?
  • Are there any restrictions on what data can be shared?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring the data management plan is followed? Is there a plan in place if this individual leaves your project?


Sample data managment plans

Sample data management plans can be viewed at: