Writing the Data Management Plan

Writing a Data Management Plan

In general, a data management plan may have the following parts, according to the general NSF requirement. Remember that your particular NSF directorate may have specific guidelines or the Funding Announcement may have specific requirements.

  1. the types of data to be authored;
  2. the standards that would be applied for format, metadata content, etc.;
  3. policies for access and sharing and provisions for appropriate protection/privacy
  4. access policies and provisions for re-use of the date; and
  5. provisions for archiving and preservation;

1. Types of Data

  • How and when will the data be collected?
  • How much data do you expect to generate during the course of your research? How often will the data change?
  • Is it observational or experimental?
  • Is it simulated from test models or compiled from other data sources?
  • Is it real-time or reproducible? What would happen if it got lost?
  • Is it live or ready to be archived? What software is required to read or view the data?
  • Describe what kind of data you expect to produce.

2. Standards and Formats

  • What file formats will you use?
    • Is there a community standard for data sharing/integration?
    • What directory and file naming convention will be used?
  • What standards will you use for your data and how will you describe it (metadata)?
    • What metadata standards will you use?
    • How will you create or capture metadata details?

Examples of Data Standards:

Information about Metadata:

Examples of Metadata for science and social science:

3. Access and Sharing with Provisions for protection of privacy

  • What steps will be taken to protect privacy, security, confidentiality, intellectual property, or other rights?
  • Who controls the data (e.g., PI, Student, lab, University, funder)?
  • How will you make the data available? (Resources needed such as equipment, systems, expertise, etc.)
  • When will you make the data available? Will there be any data embargo periods for intellectual property reasons?
  • What is the process for gaining access to the data?
  • Does sharing the data raise privacy, ethical, or confidentiality concerns?
  • Have you allowed for the sharing of anonymized data in your informed consent process?
  • Do any regulations apply to the data (for example HIPAA)?
  • Is any of the data covered by copyright? Copyright can be waived under CCO declaration http://creativecommons.org/choose/zero)

Ethical and Legal Issues (MIT)

4. Access and Re-Use / Re-Distribution Policies and Provisions

  • Is the data shared with other researchers?
  • Will the data be licensed?
  • How will you make the data available for re-use?
  • Will commercial use be allowed?
  • Who may be interested in your data in the future and what might it be used for?
  • Will any permission restrictions need to be placed on the data?
  • Are there any reasons not to share or re-use the data (such as ethical, non-disclosure, etc.)?

5. Provisions for Archiving and Preservation

  • How long should your data be kept? How long will your data be active?
  • What is the long-term strategy for maintaining, curating, and archiving the data?
  • What file formats will be used and are they long-lived?
  • Have you identified a repository or archive in which to deposit your data? Is a discipline specific repository available?
  • How will the data be prepared for long term preservation (if needed)?
  • What metadata / documentation will be submitted with the data or created in order to make the data reusable?
  • Will funding or other institutional commitments be required for preservation?
  • What are the procedures for your intended long term data location for preservation and backup?
  • How will documentation and curation responsibilities be transferred from one entity to another?
  • Do you have a retention schedule or a schedule to destroy your data at some point?
    • Are there ethical or legal obligations for the secure removal of data after a specific time period?

Information about archiving and preservation:

Data-Pass - Data preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences
Backups and Security (MIT)
Stewardship and Archiving (University of Minnesota)