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Research Data Management

This guide provides best practices and resources for managing your research data for any discipline.

Data Management Plan

What is a Data Management Plan?  

  • A comprehensive plan of how you will manage your research data throughout the lifecycle of your research project.
  • A brief description of how you will comply with funder’s data sharing policy, reviewed as part of a grant application.
  • A formal document that outlines how you will handle your data both during your research, and after the project is completed.

It can be a plan that you use internally to document the procedures and data handling guidelines in your lab - a roadmap or blueprint.  A resource that you can use when new students join the lab, or new colleagues become affiliated with the project.  It explains how you do stuff.  Think of it as your instruction manual.

It can be a brief paragraph that answers a question or two from a funder that covers their data management requirement. These are usually included in the narrative section of a proposal.  It may also be an extensive description of your data management plans, written throughout the proposal.

The most familiar variation is a formal document called a data management plan (DMP) that is required by funders and that must be included to even submit your proposal.   

It may also be called a Data Sharing Plan (DSP), or a Data Access Plan (DAP), or a Resource Sharing Plan (RSP), or a Data Management and Sharing Plan (DMSP), or a Data Management and Access Plan (DMAP), or....whatever the funder chooses to call it.  Each funder will have different requirements, and a different focus.  The most important thing to remember is to draft a DMP that answers the questions that the funder is asking, in the manner that they prefer.  

Remember that a DMP is an iterative document. It can, and should, be updated if necessary. Because it is usually written before the project is funded it is not unusual that changes may need to be made to it. 

DMPs should not be confused with Research Plans, Project Plans, Data Security Plans, Resource Sharing Plans, or Data Collection Plans. 

There are several tools available to help you draft a DMP.  We also provide templates that you can use.  The next three sections of this guide cover these areas.

DMP Templates and Guidance

DMP Templates 

Do you need a template to draft a data management plan?  Not everyone wants to use the DMPTool, and we understand. Maybe you would like to have a template that you can use in a classroom setting so your students can practice writing a plan. Perhaps you would simply like to see what the requirements are for a given funder, so you can get a head start on your next grant proposal.

The NSF and NEH templates are identical to the ones in the DMPTool. The NIH, DOE and IES templates were created in response to these funders changing requirements. The CDC templates are created from their original draft templates. Some funders have specific requirements for a program, and those guidance documents are also available here.  All templates are in Word format, and Rich Text format are available by request.  

The appropriate guidance documents are provided with the templates.  I have also created some discipline-specific guidance for a few of the templates.  They are based on my experience with DMPs for those funders. 

To download the templates simply click the link.  You can also visit the template page on our website to download them. 

Dept. of Education - Institute for Education Sciences (IES)

The U.S Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences solicits grant proposals in 2 major categories: Research Programs and Research Training Programs.  Funding opportunities are posted each year in May for the next calendar year.

IES 2020 with UVa-specific guidance

IES 2020 

National Science Foundation (NSF)

It is strongly suggested that you use the specific template for your NSF program if one is available.  These templates have been engineered to fulfill the requirements of the particular Directorate or Division.

Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results 

nsf-gen template  This is a generic template which can be used for any NSF DMP.   If the program you are interested in does not have a template link, then use the generic template. 

Department of Energy (DOE)

Office of Science (OS)

The Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) fulfills the Department of Energy (DOE) responsibility to collect, preserve, and disseminate research and development (R&D) results emanating from DOE funding.

Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists The DOE Office of Science’s Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) leverages the expertise of its six research program offices and the unique capabilities at DOE’s laboratories to sponsor workforce training programs designed to motivate students and educators to pursue careers that will contribute to the Office of Science’s mission in discovery science and science for the national need. 

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

Office of Digital Humanities (ODH)

neh-odh template

Digital Humanities Advancement Grantssee Attachment 8 for DMP requirements (1/2020)

Blog: Planning 3: Managing and Sustaining the Project Assets - Data Management Plans (11/2019) 

Department of Defense (DoD)

  • DoD Instruction 3200.12 "DoD Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP), Change 3" (12/17/2018). A Data Management Plan (DMP) describing the scientific data expected to be created or gathered in the course of a research project must be submitted to DTIC at the start of each research effort. It is important that DoD researchers document plans for preserving data at the outset, keeping in mind the potential utility of the data for future research or to support transition to operational or other environments. Otherwise, the data is lost as researchers move on to other efforts. The essential descriptive elements of the DMP are listed in section 3 of DoDI 3200.12, although the format of the plan may be adjusted to conform to standards established by the relevant scientific discipline or one that meets the requirements of the responsible Component. 
  • DTIC Policy Memoranda Provides summaries and links for STIP Policy DoD Directives, Instructions, and Manuals including 5105.73; 3200.12; 3200.14 Vol. 1; 3200.14 Vol. 2; 5230.24; 5230.25; 32 CFR 2002; 32 CFR 250; and 5230.27. Provides access to policies, manuals, and other documentation for Submissions of STI to DTIC; Unified Research and Engineering Database (URED); Independent Research and Development (IR&D); Technology Transfer; Security Classification Codes; Congressional Directives; SI Policy for All Executives Agencies; and Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Fundamental Research DARPA fully supports free scientific exchanges and dissemination of research results to the maximum extent possible.

DARPA Offices

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) 

"The application should include a clearly articulated data management plan and use of an appropriate database to safeguard and maintain the integrity of the data." DMPs are attachments with no page limits and cover data collection, confidentiality, data capture and verification, reporting, and sharing.

CDMRP uses the FDA Study data standards for databases.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)