Data management planning

Data management planning

It is important to consider the data related aspects of your research before you start a project. Data management planning, ethical approval, and data protection considerations are often essential prerequisites for a research project. This page discusses the process of writing a data management plan (DMP), funder requirements and the benefits of data management planning. 

Bidding for funding
How do I bid for funding?

‌‌The Research Innovation Office (RIO) provide support for the pre-award research process, including assistance with costing applications, drafting and provision of collaboration agreements for projects, submission of funding applications, and all other aspects of your research proposal. Contact information and key documents are available from the Research Support intranet site.

How does data management come into the bidding process?

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has agreed a statement of Expectations for Societal and Economic Impact, which states that those who receive funding are expected to "take responsibility for the curation, management and exploitation of data for future use".

As a result all UKRI research councils, and many others, now expect you to submit a DMP with your application which outlines what data you will create and how you will manage it.

UKRI also expect all grant applications to include a Pathways to Impact statement.

How should I create a DMP?

The next section of this webpage, Why write a data management plan (DMP)?, explains how to create a plan, what information to include, outlines funders' data management requirements, and links to sample plans submitted to a number of different funders.

How do I prepare a Pathways to Impact plan?

As of 1st March 2020 UKRI no longer require applicants to submit a Pathways to Impact Plan or Impact Summary alongside their application. Instead it is assumed that impact should be demonstrated throughout the entire grant application. If you require further assistance with impact please contact your school's Research Impact Officer:

Why write a data management plan (DMP)?

Most funders require researchers to submit a DMP with their grant applications. Writing a DMP provides the impetus for researchers to consider and propose to their funders how they will manage and share their data before project work begins. This benefits researchers as it establishes the framework and resources to support their research data, which often translates to better time management and lower costs during project work.

By committing to the DMP that you submit to your funder, you also stand to gain the following short and long term benefits:

  • Find and understand your data more easily when needed
  • Avoid unnecessary duplication of data
  • Document your data to ensure access and continuity when you or other colleagues depart or new research staff start
  • Allows for the validation of your published results, if and when required
  • Ensure your research is visible and has impact
  • Get credit when others cite your work
  • Sharing your data can lead to collaboration and advances in research
  • Comply with research funder's mandates
  • Comply with GCU's Research Data Management Policy.
Funder requirements

​Most research funders now require a DMP to be submitted as part of any grant application. GCU's Research Data Management Policy makes clear that, while all staff and students have a responsibility to manage the data they create, Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-Investigators (CIs) have primary responsibility for ensuring that effective DMPs are created prior to the commencement of a research project.

A comprehensive list of the latest funders' Research Data Policies is available from the Digital Curation Centre's website.

Remember that costs for the storage and long term preservation of research data should usually be factored in to your grant application.

Writing a DMP

​Writing a DMP for the first time can be a daunting prospect, especially as each funder has different requirements for what they expect to see in a plan. The guidance on this page offers a streamlined approach to writing a DMP and highlights tools and resources which should make the process straightforward.

Use DMP Online

DMP Online is a resource managed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) which helps you to create, review and share Data Management Plans that meet institutional and funder requirements. Some funders mandate the use of DMP Online, while others point to it as a useful option. The library advocates the use of DMP Online for all new data management plans created by researchers at GCU.

To use DMP Online select the option to sign in with your institutional credentials, search for Glasgow Caledonian University and enter your domain username and password when prompted.

Create your plan

DMP Online provides templates and funder-specific guidance to help you create a DMP. To create a plan, click the 'Create plan' button from the 'My Dashboard' page or the top menu. Select options from the menus and tick boxes to determine what questions and guidance you should be presented with. Confirm your selection by clicking 'Create plan'. Note: take care to select the correct options at this stage; entering incorrect information may present you with a template and guidance for the wrong funder.

Follow the funder-specific guidance provided to complete your plan. If you are unsure how to progress consult the DMP Online help menu or contact us.

Information to include in your plan

Typically you will be asked to address five themes in your DMP:

1. What data will be created?

  • Note the type and volume of data that will be created, such as transcripts, measurements, imaging, etc.
  • Explain how you will capture the data, for instance in a numbered, dated notebook.
  • What formats do you propose to use and why? for example Microsoft Access, Excel or SPSS, as they're in widespread use.

2. How will the data be documented and described?

  • What contextual details are needed? such as a description of the capture methods and data analysis
  • How will you capture this? for instance in papers, in a database, in a 'readme' text file, in file properties or headers
  • Which standards will you use and why? for example refer to data centre recommendations for metadata, controlled vocabularies
  • Are there any encoding guidelines you should follow?

3. How you will manage ethics and intellectual property?

  • How will you safeguard the privacy of research participants? for example by negotiating informed consent
  • Will there be any restrictions and why? such as delays while you seek a patent, embargo periods

4. What are the plans for data sharing and access?

  • Who is expected to use the completed dataset(s) and for what purpose?
  • How will the data be developed with future users in mind? for example choose appropriate formats, create a 'readme' file
  • How will you make the data available? for example deposit in a data centre, forward copies on request, create website, publish a book

5. What is the strategy for long-term preservation and sustainability?

  • How will you store and back-up the data? such as University storage with IT back-up, mirror data on partner's server
  • What are the plans for sustainability? for example choose open standards, deposit in data centre
  • Which repository or data centre have you identified as a place to deposit data? Ideally show you've consulted them to ensure they are the most appropriate place for your data
  • How will you prepare data for preservation and sharing? Show time and resource has been budgeted for in your project
Share your plan

DMPs created on DMP Online are stored and retained in the system. Draft plans automatically have private visibility, meaning only you and your collaborators can view or edit them.

Once your plan is complete (at least 50% of the questions must be answered) you have two options to share your plan:

  • Organisational: anyone at GCU can view your plan
  • Public: anyone can view your plan in the Public DMPs list

Completed plans should usually be set to organisational visibility. If you are happy to make your plan openly available to the public then you are welcome to do so, however please ensure that no sensitive data is shared in this way.

Download your plan

DMP Online allows you to download your completed plan in a variety of formats for inclusion in your grant proposal. You can also adjust the formatting for PDF files which may be helpful if you are working to page limits.

Sample plans

​The library has compiled a list of sample DMPs which may be of use when creating your own plan. If you would be willing share one of your plans as an exemplar to assist other researchers at GCU then please contact us.

DMP Online

Examples of data management plans created by a number of Universities and covering a wide range of different funders including the MRC, STFC, EPSRC, ESRC, AHRC and SFC.

University of Glasgow

Synthetic Chemistry – EPSRC

Drosophila Genetics – BBSRC

Trypanosome Cell Signalling – MRC​