What and why
The “full” Data Management Plan
Tools and examples
What and why
A data management plan (DMP) is a dynamic (i.e. “living”) document in which you write down your intentions concerning data management during your research. Creating a DMP at the beginning of your project helps you to reflect on how you will collect and process data, where you will store them, which security measures you should provide, which costs you should consider, etc. That way, you are well prepared from the very start, eliminating the risk of data loss, confusion (which version was the last one?), GDPR lawsuits and other unhappy outcomes, while making your data findable and reusable by others (win-win).
You should actively use the plan as a guide and update it regularly as your research project evolves. The final version of your DMP should be a true representation of how you have handled your data during the project and how you will handle them afterwards. Keep in mind that the DMP itself is not a place to store data.
Data Management Plan flow:
- Applying for a grant – APPLICATION DMP
- At the start of the project (within the first 6 months) - INITIAL FULL DMP
- Set an appointment to complete the questions of the DMP together with a data steward. After the meeting, please send a final PDF version of your initial DMP to email@example.com.
- OR complete the questions of the DMP using dmponline.be or the word template; request feedback on the draft version (via DMPonline: click on request feedback, word version: firstname.lastname@example.org). After revising your draft DMP based on the comments, please send a final PDF version of your initial DMP to email@example.com.
- During the project:
- Update the DMP regularly based on how the data management is implemented in your research project. Contact us if you have any questions throughout your research project, you don't need to send updates to RDM.
- At the end of the project - FINAL FULL DMP
- Complete your DMP (either the word version or in dmponline.be). Send the PDF version of your final DMP to firstname.lastname@example.org and submit it to your funder together with the final report.
A user-friendly tool to create a data management plan (DMP) is DMPonline. Below you will find a basic step-by-step plan for this tool, and an extensive manual can be found via this link. A benefit of using dmponline.be is that you will have access to example answers and Hasselt University guidance.
- You select your institution (e.g. Hasselt University) and log in with your user account.
- Click on the tab "Create plans" at the top to generate a new plan. You give your plan a title and select the correct funder template for your project.
- You fill in the project details. Make sure the box 'Hasselt University' guidance is checked to have access to our recommendations.
- Select the tab "Application DMP" or "Full DMP" and answer all the questions.
- In the tab "Share" you can give other collaborators read and/or write rights in order to collaborate on the DMP.
- In the "Request feedback" tab you will find a button to request feedback from the RDM team. The RDM stewards will receive your request, review your plan, provide comments, and notify you once the review is complete. You can also contact the RDM steward of your discipline directly for questions/guidance.
- The "Download" tab allows you to export your plan in the format of your choice (e.g. pdf).
You are not required to use DMPonline. You may also use another tool, but make sure the questions from your funder's DMP template are answered.
Research institutes and funders expect that researchers manage their publicly funded research projects well. At the basis of many funders’ data policies lies the DMP requirement, similar to the Hasselt University RDM Policy Plan (pdf).
Most funders require an application DMP in the grant application phase, followed by a full DMP to be submitted 6 months following the start of the project if granted. In most cases, a final DMP has to be submitted together with a final project report. Each funder or funding program has specific requirements for the DMP format and provides a funder-specific DMP template, accessible at DMPonline.be. When you have finished your plan, (export and) send it to email@example.com so we can archive it and inform your funder that you have fulfilled this requirement.
More information on the particular requirements of each funder or funding program can be found on the following websites:
- Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
- Special Research Fund (BOF)
- Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe Frameworks
The “full” Data Management Plan
The sections of a full DMP might differ depending on your funder or funding program, but in general the following information should be given:
- Give a description of your dataset(s), as detailed as possible: data types, data formats, origin, volume, etc. More information.
- Explain how you intend to make your data understandable to others (and to your future self) by means of documentation and metadata. More information.
- Mention the ethical and legal issues that might occur, e.g. when processing sensitive data or third-party data, and how these can be resolved. More information.
- Indicate where you will store the data during the research project. Consider the organization of the data (folder structures, file naming, versioning, etc.), security measures, back-ups, collaboration opportunities, etc. More information.
- Think about which data are worth preserving after the project has ended and where you can store them for the long term. More information.
- Think about which data are worth sharing with the scientific community or even the whole world. Consider data agreements, copyright, access rights, licenses, etc. More information.
- Designate a responsible for each part of the data management. This person should actively follow up on his/her assigned responsibilities and should therefore not be chosen rashly.
Tools and examples
- Tool to fill in your DMP: DMPonline.be. If you need assistance with this, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the RDM steward of your discipline. In addition, you can also consult the online user manual.
- UHasselt guide for the FWO/BOF application DMP
- UGent DMP review rubric for the full DMP
- Real-life examples of Data Management Plans:
Hereby the full list of tools and manuals that we recommend.