Data management plan is an important part of your research plan. Data management of each research project should be planned and data management plan (DMP) created before research starts. With the help of a data management plan, researcher can perceive the entire life cycle of the research data, diminish the risks related to them as well as ensure their ethical, secure and efficient use during and after the research.
More and more research funders require data management plan as a part of funding application or as a prerequisite for funding. With a carefully planned DMP, you show to your funder, research participants and other partners that you can manage your research data in a responsible manner. Remember to check the guidelines of your funder and organisation first, so you are aware of what kind of demands they have.
Also, find out if your research needs an ethical review or if there are some other ethical or legal aspects which might affect data management or use.
DMP can be updated during the research project, but the most important guidelines and principles should be contemplated on before the project starts. Remember that DMP deals only with research data, not executing the research itself.
Generally the following are considered in the DMP:
- What kind of data will be generated or reused during research? How much data will be produced?
- Who owns the data?
- What kind of data management roles, rights and responsibilities are needed?
- If research includes collecting data from people, how the research participants are informed about data handling?
- How are confidentiality of data and information security ensured?
- How do you ensure data quality and documentation?
- Where will you save and store the data during the project? How will you take care of back-ups?
- How will you produce the descriptive metadata for your data? Where will you save your metadata?
- What happens to your data after the study? Can the data be opened, or at least part of it? If you can’t open the data, justify this and define how the data will be preserved or destroyed.
- Resources needed.
Familiarise yourself with General Finnish DMP Guidance, UEF guidelines and your funder’s guidelines for research planning. If your funder doesn’t have specific guidelines, see the guidelines of Academy of Finland or EU: Horizon 2020 (these can be chosen in DMPTuuli, see next chapter). When writing your DMP try to give comprehensive description about how you will manage your research data and answer all questions that are relevant particularly for your research data.
A data management plan should not be thought as a simple administrative task for which standardised text can be pasted in from model templates, with little intention to implement the planned data management measures early on, or without considering what is really needed to enable data sharing. Implementing data management measures during the planning and development stages of research project will avoid later panic and frustration.