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Library Research Support: Open Research: Writing a good Data Management Plan

This guide is intended to provide advice and support on open access research, including guidance around Durham Research Online (DRO), open access publishing, research data management and related topics.

Data management planning

A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a short document which explains to your funder and to your collaborators how you intend to manage your research data during and after your grant funding period.  Writing a DMP should not be seen as an administrative burden but rather an opportunity to convince your funder that you have a strategy for managing research data responsibly.  What research data will you create?  How will you guarantee your research data is stored safely?  How will you protect personal data?  How will you store large volumes of research data?  Where might you publish the research data which supports your findings?  You will propose solutions to some of these questions in your DMP.

UKRI has written Guidance on best practice in the management of research data.  This is essential reading for all researchers even if your funder is not UKRI.  At the end of the UKRI guidance, there is a DMP template which describes what you need to include in your DMP.  Please read this valuable guidance.

After reading the guidance, you should write your DMP using the DMPonline tool.  The tool includes published DMPs but you will need to filter the list by funder because there are too many DMPs to scan.  You can also read a sample of DMPs written by other Durham researchers; these appear under 'Durham University plans' on your dashboard in DMPonline.

Please follow these steps to write your plan:

  1. Browse to DMPonline
  2. Create a DMPonline account using your Durham e-mail address
  3. Login with your Durham institutional account credentials.  This should link your two accounts.
  4. In your dashboard, notice that some DMPs have been shared by other Durham researchers
  5. Choose CREATE PLANS and select a DMP template based on your funder or choose the Durham University standard template
  6. Choose WRITE THE PLAN and answer all questions as best as you can.  This is the most difficult part.  Notice the extensive guidance on the right-hand side of the user interface.  Each question relates to a specific aspect of data management.
  7. Choose SHARE plan and enter the e-mail addresses of your collaborators.
  8. If you'd like your DMP reviewed by the University's Research Data Manager, Nicholas Syrotiuk, please click REQUEST FEEDBACK.

Basic structure of a DMP

A typical DMP has the following structure:

  • Describe the research data you will create or collect.  Sometimes you can do this in a table (see Table 1 below).
  • Propose a short-term storage solution for your research data during your funding period.
  • Explain how you will protect your research data.  A separate guide covers Managing research data during a project.
  • Propose a long-term storage solution for your supporting research data (and code) after your funding period.  Typically, this means publishing the research data which supports your findings in a data (or code) repository of some kind.  A separate guide covers this topic.

European funding bodies will typically ask you to describe your research data and to answer questions about the F.A.I.R. data principles.

Table 1. Different ways of describing research data

Data created or collected

Data type

Data format

Volume or Duration

Planned storage and access

Raw ethnographic field notes Notebooks Paper n/a No shared access
Photographs Digital images JPEG 100 photographs * 4 Mb each = ca. 400 Mb OneDrive for Business
Interviews  Sound recordings MP3 20 interviews, ca. 30 minutes each.  20 * ca. 42 Mb = ca. 840 Mb in total.  (Assumes recording at a bitrate of 192 kbps.) Destroyed after transcription
Transcriptions Documents Word 20 documents, < 5 Mb each.  Total: < 100 Mb Anonymised transcripts to be published in the Durham research data repository
Magma flows X-ray images Tiff 50 Tb storage per year for five years = 250 Tb total storage Shared Research Storage (**)
Project web site Wordpress

HTML, CSS, Javascript

Web site will be publicly available during the whole project lifecycle and 3 years after the project finishes. Public
Qualitative data file Analysis of interviews stored in MAXQDA We will export data from MAXQDA in Excel format Data will be stored within
MAXQDA during the whole
project lifecycle. Requires 2 Gb storage
An edited, anonymised and de-identified version of the data will be deposited in the Durham Research Data Repository.

These column headings are for illustration purposes only.  You will need to think of meaningful column headings for your research project.

(**) You should ask your funder to contribute in whole or in part to SRS storage costs.  You will need to choose an appropriate CIS storage tier for your project: Gold tier or Silver tier.