A Data Management Plan is something that you might need to create at some stage of your career. It can be used to give you access to a grant, and it will ensure that your data will be accessible and easy to use in the future.
But not everyone knows how to create a data management plan that can fulfill its goals, neither that contains all necessary elements in it. Among so many descriptions, standards, policies, and methods to list, it is very easy to forget something or not to organize it as it should be.
However, nothing is impossible, of course. And creating a great data management plan is more a question of following the tips below.
# 1 – Understand each one of the elements that you should add to your plan
The first thing that you will have to do is create the correct structure for your plan. And you can only do it if you understand each one of the elements that you should add for starters. So here they are:
- Data description: as the name says, a description of which type of data you will be talking about in your plan.
- Existing data: the state-of-art regarding your data
- Format: how your data will be generated, maintained, and made available
- Metadata: description of the metadata and its standards
- Storage management and backup: methods and backup procedures
- Security: what, who, and how you will guarantee the security of your data
- Responsibility: people involved in the data management and their duties
- Intellectual property rights: details about copyrights involving your data
- Access and sharing: how your data will be made available, including possible restrictions
- Audience: description of who might be using your data
- Selection and retention periods: details about short-term archiving procedures
- Archiving and preservation: details about long-term archiving procedures
- Ethics and privacy: procedures regarding privacy, confidentiality, and other ethical issues
- Budget: detailed explanation of costs involved (your request for funding goes here)
- Data organization: how you will manage the data starting from version control
- Quality assurance: how quality will be ensured during the process
- Legal requirements: all legal issues related to your data management
Now that you got it right let’s go for some more specific details.
# 2 – Broad your concept of data
You might consider data as something much more specific than your public might think. So the best way to go is by listing everything that you produce from your research, and organize it in categories and subcategories as necessary. If you find hard to explain it to a non-technical audience, feel free to look for writing services reviews and choose the best one that can help you on it.
# 3 – Don’t undervalue the importance of sharing your data
Even if you are writing a plan just to apply for funding, it is important that you highlight how a larger audience will access your data once your project is done. There is very little point in gathering data just to keep it to yourself. And same the other way around. If you are dealing with sensitive material which needs to be kept confidential or made available only to a particular audience, you must show that you can handle it.
# 4 – Be careful about copyrights
It is crucial that you respect the copyrights of every single piece of data that you mention in your plan. From the smallest to the most complex. It should be all well indexed, with details about where you got it and how you use, contact details of the author, links to online publications, and information regarding how to find the primary source.
# 5 – Explain how you got there
It isn’t just your data that must be in your plan. But also a thorough explanation of how you reached those conclusions or results. People who will be interested in checking your ideas will want to learn from you how they can come up with their own insights. Include a step-by-step for each piece of data included.
# 6 – Be clear about using public or private repositories
You can choose to use a public or a private repository if you are managing your data in a control system such as GitHub. However, as the lines are very thin there, it is important that you make it clear what you are going to disclose publicly, and what you won’t.
# 7 – Consider where you will store your data
There is no point in creating a plan for data that nobody can find. With so much being launched and disappearing from the web every day, it is easy to end up trusting in a service that isn’t worth it. One digital repository usually recommended by specialists is Stanford Digital Repository, where over 200 terabytes of data are stored at the moment. NASA and MIT also have highly reputable repositories.
The bottom line
Creating a perfect data management plan takes lots of time and energy, have no doubt. There are several details to be included, and each step and procedure should be described and explained.
However, good news is that, when done the right way, you will get the perfect guide in your hands about your data. And you will be able to use it not only to get the funding that you need but also help anyone wishing to use your data in the future.