Data Management Plans

What is a DMP?

In response to the OSTP Public Access Memo from 2013, most funding agencies require Data Management Plans (DMPs) with every funding proposal. Funders typically outline or link to their DMP requirements in their funding announcements. DMPs can play a role in a funder’s award decision.

DMPs have advantages beyond their role in grant awards. The development of these documents can prompt valuable communication and planning among collaborators during the early stages of a project. Later on, a DMP can provide a framework for documentation that keeps graduate students, postdocs, and collaborators aware of systematic organization, expectations, and policies. At the end of the project, everyone is more likely to be on the same page when it’s time to publish a paper, submit a new grant or renewal, or write a thesis.

Who Can Help with DMPs?

The Research Data Service provides fast, free, and confidential feedback on draft DMPs. We work with library-based subject experts so that our feedback incorporates disciplinary and data management expertise.

Email your draft DMP, funding announcement, and OSP deadline to us at researchdata@library.illinois.edu or select the “Request Feedback” option on the last page of your DMP template in the DMPTool.

Need help getting started? Use a template in the DMPTool or contact us for pointers and resources.

Best Practices

These are best practices to consider while working on your DMP. They are based on the most common stumbling blocks we see DMP authors encounter. If you want to see examples of real DMPs, the DMPTool has put together this list of high-quality DMPs. (But remember Best Practice #1 below: your funder’s requirements are an important part of this process.) For guidance on finding a data repository or including our institutional repositories in your DMP, scroll down this page to the “Sharing & Preservation Resources for U of I Researchers” section.

1.  Look up the DMP requirements for your grant proposal.
Funders typically outline or link to their DMP requirements in their funding announcements. If you are writing your DMP for a grant proposal, it’s important to begin by reviewing your funder’s requirements and structuring your DMP accordingly.

2.  Anticipate software and storage needs by considering the types of data that will be created.
Some instruments need unique or proprietary software and some projects generate large amounts of data (either in number of files or file sizes).  Anticipating these issues will make sure there’s no scrambling.

3.  Create or adopt standard terminology and file-naming practices.
Decide on conventions and stick with them. Document your standards so transitions are smooth as graduate students, post-docs, and collaborators cycle on and off projects.

4. Set a schedule for your data management activities.
For example, nightly back-ups onto shared storage ensures more than one copy of the data exists.  Monthly file and/or directory clean-ups will help keep “publication quality” data safe and accessible. (Note that ideal backup and cleanup cycles will vary depending on the project.)

5. Assign responsibilities.
For example, assign a data manager who can check that backup clients are functional, monitor shared directories for clean-up or archiving maintenance, and follow up with team members as needed.

6. Think long-term.
For example, data associated with publications needs to be preserved long-term. Decide where it’s going (e.g. a discipline or institutional repository) and when it’s going there. Other types of data may warrant this level of preservation as well (e.g. reference, irreplaceable, long-term monitoring, etc.).

Sharing & Preservation Resources for U of I Researchers

If you plan to share your research data at the end of your project, there are several public data repository options available to you. When possible, we encourage you to deposit your research data in a repository that is specific to a field of research (a discipline repository). If you’re not sure whether your discipline has a dedicated repository, you can contact us for assistance, or check this registry of repositories. Not all disciplines have a data repository, so we have two repositories offered through the University of Illinois:

  • Illinois Data Bank is a self-deposit data repository designed to preserve and distribute data produced by Illinois researchers. Depositors are given a persistent URL (DOI) for their data and the metadata will be publicly visible through search engines. Research Data Service staff are available for deposit consultations and assistance at databank@library.illinois.edu
  • IDEALS provides consistent and reliable access to the research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. IDEALS is optimized for reports, presentations, manuscripts, and other documents that record research outputs.

Suggested Data Management Plan language about U of I repositories

Any reports, presentations, manuscripts, and other documents that record research outputs generated under this project can be deposited in IDEALS (https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/), the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship. Any datasets and accompanying documentation generated under this project can be deposited in the Illinois Data Bank (https://databank.illinois.edu/), the file-based repository for research data at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both repositories are optimized for their respective content types and support robust indexing and stable access.