Before you begin the data management process, it is important to develop a good understanding of data. Data are the variety of information collected, used, manipulated, and analyzed throughout the research process and are necessary to validate research findings.
Data can take many forms including photographs, specimens, spreadsheets, images, software programs, survey responses, codebooks, digital objects or database content.
Examples of research data may include, but not limited to:
Understanding the Research Data Lifecycle
The research data lifecycle covers the stages through which research data is collected, recorded, processed, published, shared and preserved.
Using the research data lifecycle as a guide in data management is helpful because it initiates thoughtful planning and ensures that all phases of the research data lifecycle are covered including creation, processing, analysis, preservation, sharing, and reuse.
The video below, which was produced by the UK Data Service, provides examples of various research data management tasks and activities that can be performed at each stage of the research lifecycle.
The research data management plan (DMP) is considered a formal "living document" because as you progress through the research process it should be kept up-to-date or modified often. This document should also be kept accessible to the entire research team both during and after a research project so that it can be used as a handy reference guide. This is also important because DMP's usually outlive the research project itself.
Requirements for the information to be included in your plan can vary by funding agency and institution. The required length and structure of your plan will also vary. The best way to start is to look for what your funder expects you to cover. You can find this information on the funder's website or by using the DMPonline tool.
The DMPonline is a free interactive online tool designed to help researchers create data management plans. This site provides step-by-step guidance as well as funder's template and sample data management plans.
The research division at A & T (DORED) provides a simple data management plan template as well as other resources on its website, if your funder does not provide guidance on data plans, this might be a good starting point.
Public DMPs are sample plans created using the DMPTool and shared publicly by their owners. They are not vetted for quality, completeness, or adherence to funder guidelines.
Questions to Consider Before Writing Your Data Management Plan
The webinar below outlines recommendations on creating a data management plan from ICPSR's Director of Data Acquisition Amy Pienta.