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Data Management for the Sciences

A guide to best practices for management of research data, including links to data services from the University of California.


In 2011, the National Science Foundation (NSF) began requiring that grant applicants include a data management plan in their proposals. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and others have similar policies in effect.

By creating a data management plan, you will not only satisfy funding agencies but also have an opportunity to think through how to manage your data for your own use as well as any future use by fellow researchers.

Common Requirements for a DMP

Although funding institutions have different specific requirements, a data management plan should generally contain the following components:

  • Description of the project: e.g., purpose of the research, organization(s) and staff involved
  • Description of the data to be collected: e.g., the nature and format of the data, how it will be collected, and overview of secondary data available on the topic
  • Standards to be applied for formats, metadata, etc.
  • Plans for short-term storage and data management: e.g., file formats, local storage and back up procedures, and security
  • Description of legal and ethical issues: e.g., intellectual property, confidentiality of study participants
  • Access policies and provisions: i.e., how will you make data available to others, any restrictions to to data reuse, etc.
  • Provisions for long-term archiving and preservation: e.g., in a data archive
  • Assigned data management responsibilities: i.e., which persons will actually be responsible for ensuring data management; how will compliance with this plan be monitored and ensured over time

Source: from the University of New Hampsphire

Data Management Plan Tool

Logo: DMPTOOL Build your data management plan

The DMPTool provides a click-through wizard to guide researchers through the process of creating high quality data management plans that meet funder requirements. The DMPTool supports all major funders, and is updated when funders release new requirements.  

Examples of DMPs

To get an idea of what data management plans look like, check out these examples:

  • a plan produced by the DMP Tool
  • a sample plan produced by ICPSR
  • examples of data sharing plan produced by NIH (short)
  • two sample plans from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1, 2)
  • examples shared by UC San Diego

Funding Agency Requirements

Each funding agency has its own set of guidelines. To see what these are for a few funding agencies, see the Funding Agency Requirements page.