Data management plans
About data management plans (DMPs)
A data management plan (DMP) is a written document that describes the data you expect to acquire or generate during the course of a research project, how you will manage, describe, analyze, and store those data, and what mechanisms you will use at the end of your project to share and preserve your data.
You may have already considered some or all of these issues with regard to your research project, but writing them down helps you formalize the process, identify weaknesses in your plan, and provide you with a record of what you intend(ed) to do.
Data management is best addressed in the early stages of a research project, but it is never too late to develop a data management plan.
Requirements, examples, and review
Funding agency requirements
Many funding agencies require a DMP with every funding request. Each agency or directorate creates its own set of policies for data management. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has compiled an excellent resource with information but the data management and data sharing requirements from all the federal funding agencies.
You can also consult the section below with sample agency-specific plans.
Sample agency-specific plans
- ICPSR: Sample Data Management Plan for Social and Political Science Data
- NEH-ODH: Data Management Plans from Successful Grant Applications
- NIH: Examples of Data-Sharing Plans
- NSF, Biology Directorate, Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP): Examples of three data management plans (pdf) from funded grants by Stanford Professor Virginia Walbot, including additional information and guidance.
- NSF: Example Data Management Plans for several different NSF Directorates by researchers from UC San Diego
Data services staff are happy to assist by reviewing your data management plan. Contact us for more details.
Creating a data management plan
A DMP is a living document
Research is all about discovery, and the process of doing research sometimes requires you to shift gears and revise your intended path. Your DMP is a living document that you may need to alter as the course of your research changes. Remember that any time your research plans change, you should review your DMP to make sure that it still meets your needs.
Preparing to write a DMP
Before you sit down to write your DMP, you may want to do a little thinking. The following documents provide guidance on the types of issues you may need to consider as you begin the process of writing your DMP.
- Including IT Costs in Research Grants (specific to Stanford)
- Data storage and backup
- Data best practices
- Creating metadata
- Working with sensitive data
- Data sharing
- Licensing your data
- Data preservation
- Stanford-specific guidance for NSF: Preparing Data Management Plans for NSF Grant Applications (pdf)
- Self-assessment: Data Management Plan Self-Assessment Questionnaire (pdf)
Stanford Digital Repository
The Stanford Digital Repository (SDR), a service offered by the Stanford University Libraries, provides digital preservation, hosting, and access services that enable researchers to preserve, manage, and share research data in a secure environment for long-term citation, access, and reuse.
Online tool for creating a DMP
Stanford University Libraries provides access to the online Data Management Planning (DMP) Tool. The DMPTool includes data management plan templates, along with a wealth of information and assistance to guide you through the process of creating a ready-to-use DMP for your specific research project and funding agency.
Once your data management plan is complete, you will include it with the rest of your proposal to the funding agency. Stanford's Dean of Research's Office has further information on proposal development and submission.
Questions about writing a data management plan? Visit our FAQ.