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Research Data Management: Data Management Plans

Guidance and support to staff, researchers and students at the University of Southampton

Planning Checklist

Top 10 Checklist  

Online DMP Tool

The Digital Curation Centre provides DMPonline.  This tool allows you to tailor your plan to funder and local requirements, export sections to a report and develop plans jointly with colleagues.

Creating a Data Management plan

DMP OnlineDifferent funders use different data management plan (DMP) templates. We recommend you use the DMPOnline tool from the DCC which allows you to create both generic DMPs and DMPs based on templates from various funders.  Hints and tips are included at each stage from the funder, the DCC and the University of Southampton.

The Research Data team can review your data management plan before you submit your grant application.We would prefer to have at least two weeks notice before the deadline. Email us at researchdata@soton.ac.uk

Why create a plan?

A data management plan (DMP) identifies the data that will be

  • created
  • stored
  • shared
  • preserved.

It addresses how this will be done, clarifying roles and responsibilities and any requirements to restrict access to data, where sharing is the default position.  Even if your project funder does not require planning, it may be useful to write a DMP because time spent reflecting on roles and options at the start can save time later and provide additional benefits, for example:

  • If key staff move on, along with their considerable body of knowledge, it can help ensure that things stay on track. When new researchers join the project team, they can get up to speed quickly.
  • If you get queries about your data, which could include a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, a DMP can help demonstrate that ethical and confidentiality issues have been considered appropriately along with effective processes for data security, retention and sharing.

A DMP will bring most benefit if it is referred to and updated throughout the project and viewed as an integral part of the research process.

Funder Requirements

If your funder requires you to write a data management plan (DMP), you should follow any guidance that they provide.  Most funders provide detailed guidance including templates or section headings to follow.  Requirements vary from funder to funder and over time, so ensure that you have relevant and current information - see guidance from funders.

The support offered by the University aims to complement the support provided by funders.  Support is not just for the development of your DMP, but also for its implementation at any point during the lifecycle of your project.

Some funders do not have specific guidance on DMPs, but do have advice and requirements for data sharing - see guidance on Data Access Management and Sharing.

The Principal Investigator (PI) or lead investigator for the research is responsible for ensuring that the data management plan and/or research proposal meets the requirements of the funder’s policy and the University Research Data Management Policy. The Faculty is responsible for providing guidance for decisions.

What should a plan cover?

If your funder requires you to write a data managment plan (DMP), follow that funder's current advice.  If your funder has no specific requirements or your research is unfunded see our Top 10 Checklist  taking account of the following:

Facilities available for data storage, access and management

  • You may need to store and archive all your data institutionally, or store raw and/or processed data prior to archiving with a specified discipline/funder repository. Different storage options may be effective at different stages of your work. You may want to:

    • Provide better collaborative access to project data
    • Check that you are using the most effective tools to transfer data securely and back up your data
    • Ensure that your data is archived in a file format that minimises the risk of corruption and maximises potential future re-use

    Full guidance is available on data storage; managing access;and destruction of data.

Roles and responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of individual researchers should be defined. Where roles are not clear, you can seek advice from the Associate Dean Research in your Faculty.

See also guidelines on retention periods and IPR guidance

Consistent description and labelling of data 

You may have more than one audience for your data, particularly if it needs to be made available publicly or through a request process. Embedding the addition of relevant metadata as part of day to day workflow can help you find your own files more effectively and help others find your work and cite it correctly. You may want to:

  • Identify which approach to metadata is best for the different users of your data - colleagues, funders, industry, policy makers, public
  • Agree an approach to the file naming, marking up versions and synchronisation of data across devices
  • Explore possible options for automating some metadata
  • Ensure your archived data can be linked to project information and publications

Full guidance is available on Describing data for effective reuse.



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