A data management plan is a document describing analog or digital data as well as other materials (e.g. publications, recorded presentations) that have been or will be gathered in a study or project. It often includes details about how these materials will be organized, preserved, and shared and which procedures are needed to access and use them.
Data management plans may be very simple and include a few sentences about the files being created in the course of research. Other plans may be more complex; it depends on the research and what is involved in it.
Data plans can help you:
In recent years, there has been an increased interest in the sharing of and access to scientific research data, especially from projects receiving federal funding. The NIH adopted a data sharing policy in 2013, stating that "data should be made as widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding the privacy of participants, and protecting confidential and proprietary data" (NIH, 2003). In 2011, NSF began requiring that data management plans be submitted with all grant proposals. Then in February 2013, the Office of Science and Technology Policy--an office of the Executive Office of the President--released a memo stating the Administration's intent to increase access to the results of federally funded scientific research (OSTP, 2013). This memo directed all federal agencies awarding over $100 million in research grants annually " to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government."
As more funding agencies begin to require data management and sharing plans, it is important to remember that every granting agency has slightly different requirements. Requirements for several of the agencies are provided in the table below.
|NSF||Requires a 2 page (max.) data plan with all proposals||Data Management Plan*|
|NIH||Requires a paragraph following the Research Plan section of the proposal that describes how data will be shared||Data Sharing Plan|
|NASA||Requires a data sharing plan as part of the Scientific/Technical/Management section of proposals||Guidebook for Proposers|
|NIJ||Requires a 1-2 page data archiving strategy||Guidelines and examples|
|NEH||Digital Humanities Implementation Grants require a 2 page (max.) sustainability and data management plan||Guidelines|
In addition, different agency departments and individual proposal solicitations may provide additional information/guidelines for data management plans. This is especially true for NSF grant proposals. Be sure to carefully review program solicitations or individual NSF Division and Directorate web pages for additional information.
*Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF Unit are provided here.
Managing your data before you begin your research and throughout its life cycle is essential to ensure its current usability and long-term preservation and access. You can begin the planning process by asking yourself the following questions:
Data Management Plan Template
This template provides an outline and various questions to consider as you begin to write your own data management plan.
The DMPTool is a great way to get started on your data management plan. It can assist you in creating a DMP more tailored to the agency to which you are applying.
Sample NSF Data Management Plans
This resource, created by UC San Diego, includes sample data management plans submitted to a variety of NSF divisions and directorates.
Memo on increasing access to the results of federally funded scientific research
Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) February, 2013
Letter to Congressional committees on progress toward increasing public access to the results of federally funded research
OSTP, March 2014
Learn more about the Office of Science and Technology Policy and keep up with news related to federal share requirements.
Examination of Federal Data Management Plan Guidelines
An analysis of the data management plan content requirements for federal grant proposals
NIH Guidelines for Genomic Data Sharing Plans
Guidelines and examples for data sharing plans for proposals involving genomic data
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