Data Management Plans

The Population Research Institute's (PRI) Computational and Spatial Analysis (CSA) Core provides research support services at all stages of the funded research cycle including the development of data management plans. Data management plans are required by many funding agencies including the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

There are a number of factors to consider in developing the data management plan for your project. Some of those issues are discussed here along with some resources that may be useful. The CSA Core is available to help you determine the best option for your particular situation. Contact the CSA Core at csa-info@psu.edu to discuss your needs and to learn how we can support your project.

Benefits of a Data Management Plan

A good data management plan will allow the researcher to describe the collection or acquisition of data, the management of data files and documentation throughout the project, and the eventual preservation and sharing of the research output. Proper planning will ensure that you have the necessary resources to fulfill your grant requirements, enhance the reproducibility of your research, and complete the life cycle of your project.

A data management plan can be very useful when completing your Institutional Review Board (IRB) application. Your data management plan can demonstrate to the IRB that you have considered the risks associated with your research data and are prepared to control for those risks. This may make the IRB more likely to approve your application. IRB applications should be submitted before your project starts to allow for publishing your results later.

Preparing a Data Management Plan

The specifics of a data management plan should be custom-crafted to meet the requirements and risks associated with a specific research project and the resources available. There are elements common to data management plans that you should consider when preparing your data management plan. The following tools and resources may be useful to you in preparing your data management plan.

Tools

Data Repository Services and Tools
Data Repository Services and Tools is a research guide prepared by the Penn State University Libraries. This guide "provides lists of resources and services available to Penn State researchers preparing or executing data management plans." The University Libraries also offers consultation to researchers who would like assistance in drafting their plans.
DMPTool
The DMPTool provides detailed guidance and links to general and institutional resources and walks a researcher through the process of generating a comprehensive plan tailored to specific DMP requirements.

Resources

"Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans"
ICPSR offers some "Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans" including a "framework for creating a plan" and a bibliography of "readings germane to the elements of a data management plan."
"Data Management General Guidance"
The DMPTool offers "Data Management General Guidance" with advice including technical matters such as file formats and organizing files.
Data Management Plan "Best Practices"
DataONE provides a number of "Best Practices" related to data management plans. DataONE also provides a lesson on "Data Management Planning" as one of their available "Education Modules."