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.
Data management is important to scholars for many reasons. Reasons range from the mundane to the more idealistic.
It's easier for you to use your data when it's well managed, saving you time and effort!
Grants may have requirements for data management plans.
Well-managed data can support the larger scholarly life cycle. When your published data is reusable, it can be put to novel use, generating still more new knowledge.
In 2013 the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo directing certain federal agencies (those with more than $100M in R&D expenditures) to "develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research." See full memo titled "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research" here (PDF). Many funding agencies now require the inclusion of a data management plan in grant proposal submissions.
A data management plan (DMP) helps researchers work with, manage, share and archive their data effectively. A DMP typically describes:
If you have questions about creating a data management plan, please contact science liaison librarian Eli Gandour-Rood!
The California Digital Library has created a free, open-source product called DMPTool to guide researchers through the process of creating a data management plan, whether as part of a funding requirement or for their own benefit. This brief video describes the DMPtool.