Before The Research - Planning Research Data Management

A data management plan is an opportunity to think about the resources that will be required during the lifetime of the research project and to make sure that any necessary resources will be available for the project. In addition, it is likely that some form of data management plan will be required as part of a grant proposal.

The main questions the plan will cover are:
  • What type of storage do you require ?
    Do you need a lot of local disk space to store copies of standard datasets ? Will you be creating data which should be deposited in a long-term archive, or published online ? How will you back up your data ?
  • How much storage do you require ?
    Does it fit within the standard allocation for backed-up storage ?
  • How long will you require the storage for ?
    Is data being archived or published ? Does your funder require data publication ?
  • How will this storage be provided ?
Appropriate answers will relate to: Additional questions may include:
  • What is the appropriate license under which to publish data ?
  • Are there any ethical concerns relating to data management e.g. identifiable participants ?
  • Does your research data management plan comply with relevant legislation ?
    e.g. Data Protection, Intellectual Property and Freedom of Information

A minimal data management plan for a project using standard C4DM/QMUL facilities could say:

During the project, data will be created locally on researchers machines and will be backed up to the QMUL network. Software will be managed through the site which provides a Mercurial version control system and issue tracking. At the end of the project, software will be published through soundsoftware and data will be published on the C4DM Research Data Repository.

For larger proposals, a more complete plan may be required. The Digital Curation Centre have an online tool (DMP Online) for creating data management plans which asks (many) questions related to RCUK principles and builds a long-form plan to match research council requirements.

It is important to review the data management plan during the project as it is likely that actual requirements will differ from initial estimates. Reviewing the data management plan against actual data use will allow you to assess whether additional resources are required before resourcing becomes a critical issue.

In order to create an appropriate data management plan, it is necessary to consider data management requirements during and after the project.

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) provide DMP Online, a tool for creating data management plans. The tool can provide a data management questionnaire based on institutional and funder templates and produce a data management plan from the responses. Documents are available describing how to use DMP Online.