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Data Resources: Data Management Plans

Information on finding, using, citing, and managing data

What is a Data Management Plan and why do I need one?

Data Management Plans outline how researchers will store and document their data, and make them available for review and/or reuse. Researchers are asked to provide information about tools and instruments that generate or capture data, file types, file sizes, description, storage, backup, and access plans and policies.

You need a DMP if your funding agency requires one with your grant application, of course. However, there are other good reasons to create a Data Management Plan. Creating a DMP will help you to analyze your data practices, allowing you to optimize your storage or backup options, your naming conventions, and your other data management policies, so that it is easier to find, understand, and preserve data collected for your research projects, and (potentially) to share your data with others.

Public Access and Data Sharing Requirements

Your granting agency's explanation of its requirements for a Data Management Plan will be an essential starting point. The National Science Foundation's Dear Colleague letter of May 20, 2019 outlines effective practices for data, and has links to the NSF Public Access Plan, the Data Management Plan Requirement, and  Frequently Asked Questions about Public Access. There is often additional information that pertains directly to your specific program area or directorate. The National Institutes of Health provide information on their public access policy. There are updated requirements for NIH data sharing as of 2023. The White House OSTP memo of 2013 established public access requirements for scientific publications including the data underlying them; these were updated in a 2022 OSTP memo. A FAQ document from SPARC on the 2022 OSTP memo helps to break down the updated requirements. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) provides a tool to browse the data sharing requirements of various funding agencies, including NSF, NIH, and other US government agencies.

The links below will connect you with additional resources that may be helpful as you prepare the Data Management Plan.

Data Management Plan (DMP) Tools and Resources

Metadata and Data Management Tools

Sample Data Management Plans

There are a number of online resources to find sample data management plans. Some of these are from actual proposals submitted to granting agencies, while others are designed only for use as examples; they may not all be ideal models. For examples of data management plans from grants written by Whitman faculty, check with individual grant recipients or with the Office of Grants and Foundation Relations. Try to find recent examples of DMPs in your field, as standards and expectations can change rapidly, and vary across disciplines. Your program officer will have the most up-to-date information about current requirements and expectations for a DMP in your area.

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