How-Tos

Create a Data Management Plan

Data management is essential, from before your sponsored research project begins and throughout the research process, to ensure that the data is current, usable, protectable, and accessible.

In general, proposals submitted to the NIH of $500,000 or more must include a “Resource Sharing Plan” which covers model organisms, genome wide association studies, and data management. Smaller NIH grants may also require a resource sharing plan, depending on the solicitation. All proposals submitted to the NSF require a “Data Management Plan” consisting of no more than 2 pages. The NEH Office of Digital Humanities also now requires a 2 page data management plan and other sponsors may have similar requirements.

The following guidelines provide general information to assist you in creating a data management plan. Please refer to your funding opportunity announcement or the specific agency requirements when creating a data management plan for a specific grant or project.

The NIH defines data as:

“Recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to document and support research findings. This does not mean summary statistics or tables; rather, it means the data on which summary statistics and tables are based.”

Creating your data management plan:

WashU Libraries Data & GIS Service provide data management plan services which include the drafting and review of DMP’s, consultations on data management best practices, recommendations on data archiving and sharing, metadata schemas, and more. For more information on DMP’s please contact WashU Libraries Research Data Services at: dataservices@wustl.edu, or your subject librarian.
The National Science Board recommends that data management plans cover the following general elements:

  • Types of data (samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, etc.)
  • Standards to be used for data and metadata format and content
  • Policies for access and sharing data including provisions for privacy/intellectual property
  • Policies and provisions for reuse, redistribution, and the production of derivatives
  • Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, preservation of access, and for how long the products will be retained. The general standard for federally sponsored projects is three years after final submission of all project reports, but your timeline might be different depending on the nature of the data and/or the particular sponsor’s requirements.

Other topics to cover in your written plan include:

  • Description of the data and the methods used to collect or create the data​
  • How data will be documented throughout the research project
  • How data quality will be assured
  • Backup procedures
  • How data will be made available for public use and potential secondary uses
  • Any exceptional arrangements that might be needed to protect participant confidentiality or intellectual property
  • Name of the person responsible for data management within your research project

The California Digital Library has created an excellent Data Management Plan (DMP) Tool to help users create plans tailored to specific agency and directorate requirements. Remember to follow the specific requirements of the funding announcement that you are responding to as your primary guide, however.

Additional Resources

NIH Resource Sharing Plans
NIH Data Sharing Information
NIH Data Sharing Policy and Implementation Guidance  (includes example plans)
NSF Data Management page (includes links to specific directorates)
University of Michigan Data Management Plan Guidance (NSF)
Data Management Plans for NEH Office of Digital Humanities Proposals and Awards
Creating a Data Management Plan for NIH (with examples)​​​​​​
WUSTL Grants Library WUSTL key required