Writing a Data Management Plan

Yesterday I ran a 2hr workshop with Sarah Jones (Digital Curation Centre) on writing a DMP. We had six participants from across UEL, who were very engaged and willing to participate – making the trainers’ task more enjoyable. The aim was to introduce the rationale and structure of DMPs, to look at some real-world examples and to start drafting a plan for one’s own research project. Here is the outline of the workshop:

  • 12:00 Welcome and introductions
  • 12:15 Data Management Planning¬†presentation by Sarah Jones
  • 12:45 Walk through example plans
  • 13:15 Work through a¬†template to create a DMP
  • 13:45 Feedback and summary

In the introduction we heard about the data activity of participants, both research students and staff. Sarah then walked through the need to have a data management plan when seeking Research Council funding, but also stressed that they are useful tools for researchers themselves (even without an external requirement). She highlighted the common topics covered by plans, whether from funders or institutions. And we had a walkthrough of DMPonline (in its new improved version, in beta at http://dmponline-beta.dcc.ac.uk/) which helps create a plan customised to a particular need.

Next we looked at a couple of real DMPs – the sample AHRC Technical Plan offered by the University of Bristol (which helpfully includes the assessor’s comments on each section of the plan), and a UK Data Archive one from the ESRC/BBSRC/NERC Rural Economy and Land Use programme. These helped to reassure the participants that DMPs are not long or complicated, and laid the ground for the next exercise – drafting a plan using a straightforward template.

We reused the Research360 project’s template devised for PGR students at the University of Bath. This uses six basic headings, with more specific questions under each to prompt authors:

  • Overview
  • Defining your data
  • Looking after your data
  • Sharing your data
  • Archiving your data
  • Executing your plan

We’re grateful to Jez Cope the template’s creator and to Bath for making the template available under a CC-BY licence, which allows others to reuse and adapt it. The template is available in Bath’s OPUS repository (at http://opus.bath.ac.uk/30772/), as is a similar one for research staff.

I wrapped up the workshop with a quick mention of Research Data Services, the support service we are developing at UEL to help staff and students manage their research data. We got some good ideas about what this should cover from participants, so thanks for that. Participants took away a copy of Sarah’s DCC guide on writing DMPs and the UK Data Archive’s Managing and Sharing Data, and an offer to review any plan they worked up after the workshop.