Data management plan
A data management plan (DMP) is a formal document that outlines how you will handle your data both during your research, and after the project is completed.
Why plan your data management?
Planning how to manage your data from the outset of your project will make your life easier if you want to be able to reuse or share your data. Decisions you make about which software to use, how to organise, store and manage your data, and the consent agreements you negotiate, will all affect what is possible to do in the future and ensure your research will be understood by your peers.
Most funders and Lancaster University expect you to write a data management plan (DMP). A DMP is part of good research practice.
What does a data management plan look like?
Data management plans typically state:
- What data will be created and how;
- Outline the plans for sharing and preservation, noting what is appropriate given the nature of the data; and
- Any restrictions that may need to be applied.
Each data management plan template is slightly different. In general however, they will cover variations of the following elements:
- Researcher and research context;
- Data types and formats;
- Standards and capture methods;
- Ethics and intellectual property;
- Access, data sharing and re-use;
- Short term storage and data management;
- Deposit and long-term storage;
- Resourcing; and
- Training and support.
When to write a data management plan (DMP)?
- Most data management plans are required by the funding bodies at the application stage.
- If you are self-funded, Lancaster University expect a DMP at the funding application stage or at the beginning of the project.
- For more information on when funding bodies expect a data management plan, see our guidance on funder expectations.
Other common names for a data management plan
- Data management and sharing plan
- Access and data management plan
- Statement on data sharing
- Data access plan
- Technical plan
Do I need to complete a data management plan (DMP)?
Yes, you do need to write a DMP because one of the following will apply:
- Your funding body expects you to write a DMP and it is part of your application.
- Lancaster University expects that "each [research] project will have a data management plan that is produced at funding application stage or at the beginning of the project". (Research Data Policy (.docx)). This applies even if your research project is internally funded or self-funded. Your Directors of Research or Research Office or other Departmental Staff may be able to look over your data management plan to make sure that it is in line with the standards expected in your discipline.
Note that you are not expected to write two DMPs, for your funder and the University. If you have written a DMP as part of your grant application, you do not need to write a separate one for the University.
Where do I find the right DMP template?
If you are externally funded your funder might have a DMP template. Please look at our funder expectations page for details. If your research is internally or self-funded or if your funder does not provide a DMP template, please use the Lancaster University DMP Template (.docx).
We’d encourage you to use the online tool DMPonline which provides templates of Lancaster University and all major funders (including UKRI) and also includes guidance and additional features such as sharing and export options.
FHM: FHMREC form and Data Management Plans
The FHM Research Ethics Committee (FHMREC) which oversees ethical review of proposed research that is not reviewed through research ethics mechanisms outside the University (e.g. NHS) has reviewed its FHMREC application form.
The FHMREC application form now includes questions on data management planning. This means that if you are using the FHMREC application form you do not need to fill in an extra data management plan. Please contact Diane Hopkins, at the FHM office, if you have any questions.
Help and support
There are a number of tools and resources available that can help you write your data management plan:
Funding bodies increasingly require their grant-holders to produce and maintain data management plans, both at the bid-preparation stage and after funding has been secured. DMPonline has been developed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) to enable you to build and edit DMPs according to the requirements stipulated by the major UK funders.
The University has developed guidance embedded in DMPonline to aid researchers in drafting a DMP.
How to use DMP online
- Go to DMPonline and sign up to get a free account. State that you are affiliated with Lancaster University.
- Choose the template of your funder.
- Select University of Lancaster as your organisation. You will see guidance from your funder and Lancaster University (there is no need to choose the DCC guidance as well). Create your plan.
- Edit the plan. You can save a draft plan at any point and come back to it later. You can also share your plan with colleagues.
- Export the plan when you have finished the DMP.
How do I write a data management plan in DMPonline when my funder provides no template or I am self-funded?
Choose the default Lancaster University data management plan — which you can access in DMPonline:
- Log into DMPonline and click Create plan.
- Do not select a funder from the drop-down list. Instead click Not applicable not listed.
- A new text field Funder name will be visible with University of Lancaster showing.
- Click Create plan and confirm plan details.
You now have a Lancaster University template DMP which you can fill in.
If you want to see examples of DMPs written by Lancaster University researchers, then have a look at our DMP Library (you will need to log in to view the page). There are also examples of external DMPs (see below or on top side panel).
Data management plan review service
DMPs are now part of most grant applications, and the University expects you to have a DMP even if you are internally funded. If you want us to look through your plan and give recommendations for improvement we are ready to do so! We can make sure you have included types of data, standards, policies for access and sharing, archiving and preservation plans.
Please allow us 5 working days for a thorough review. However, if you have a tight deadline please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate you. Email your DMP to email@example.com.
Research Data Management costs
One of the UKRI Common Principles on Data Policy is:
"It is appropriate to use public funds to support the management and sharing of publicly-funded research data. To maximise the research benefit which can be gained from limited budgets, the mechanisms for these activities should be both efficient and cost-effective in the use of public funds."
This means you can include data management costs in your research grant, such as expenses for data anonymisation and secure data storage. You will need to mention this in your data management plan.
Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or your Grants Officer of the Research and Contract Support Office.
Other useful resources
- Checklist for a Data Management Plan put together by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC).
- Template for a Data Management Plan (Word), which draws together details researchers often are asked to provide in data management plans.
It is a good idea to look at example Data Management Plans to get a feel for detail and language that is expected. Look below or in the side bar for example DMPs:
- Example DMPs and guidance with plans relating to different funding bodies from the Digital Curation Centre.
- Rural Economy and Land Use (doc).
- DMP on Animal behavioural experiments project (pdf) from Sheffield University.
- Example DMP with guidance notes for Researchers in the Psychological Sciences (pdf) from Sheffield Hallam University.