What is a Data Management Plan?
Many federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, now require grant applications to include data management or sharing plans for projects that involve the collection or creation of data. These data management plans, usually expected to be around two pages or less, typically include such areas as a description of the data and metadata to be used in the project, how these data will be stored, managed, shared, and preserved, and any associated legal or ethical issues.
Here are links to the requirements of key agencies:
Evaluating your Data Needs
Planning out the needs of the data to be included in or created by your project is a critical step. You need to outline what formats your data are in and how this data will be stored, backed up, and, if necessary, preserved for future use. Factors to consider are the storage space needed now and in the future (which can become substantial for image, GIS, and multimedia data or data collected through sensors) and restrictions on who can use and access the data.
Data planning checklists can be helpful tools:
- http://www.cdlib.org/services/uc3/datamanagement/ (California Digital Library)
- http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/subjects/data-management/checklist.html (MIT)
- http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/rdm/dmp/checklist/ (University of Oxford)
Sharing your Data
Sharing data that you create through a project funded by a federal agency is an important component of your data management plan. As stated within the NSF Data Sharing Policy:
"Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing." (http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp)
You can share your data in a number of ways, including simple ones such as posting it online through a project or university website or citing your data in published materials. One of the most effective ways of sharing your data is depositing it into a known archive for your institution or discipline. American University Library maintains a data server. Please contact Chris Lewis if you are interested in depositing your data with the library. Additional resources are listed below, although not all of the resources listed in these gathering sites accept researcher-created data:
- Archives and Repositories of Data, maintained by the University of Minnesota University Libraries: https://www.lib.umn.edu/datamanagement/datacenters
- Social Sciences: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR): http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/access/deposit/index.jsp.
- DataCite: http://datacite.org/repolist
- DataBib: http://databib.org/
- Data Respositories, maintained by Simmons College: http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Data_repositories
- Science Data Respostories, maintained by the Ohio State University University Libraries: http://library.osu.edu/find/subjects/science-data-repositories/
Ethical and Legal Issues
It is important to consider the legal and ethical issues that can be related to your data, such as confidentiality and intellectual property. (If data will be kept for future use, this form must accompany the study’s IRB submission http://www.american.edu/irb/upload/IRB_SuppH_FutureUse.pdf.)
An online module developed by Nothern Illinois University that introduces integrity issues related to data management can be found here: http://ori.dhhs.gov/education/products/n_illinois_u/datamanagement/dmmain.html. Seven topic areas are included: Overview of Data Management, Data Selection, Data Collection, Data Handling, Data Analysis, Data Publication and Reporting, and Data Ownership.
More information can also be found here http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/subjects/data-management/ethical.html (MIT) and here http://www.lib.umn.edu/datamanagement/copyright (University of Minnesota).