Preparing Data Management Plans for Grant Applications
As the data produced by research in all fields increase in volume and complexity, funding agencies have begun to require researchers to create plans for managing, sharing, and preserving their data. Specific and detailed data management plans are required for all proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation and to the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities. Many other federal and private funding agencies have less structured data sharing policies. For example, the NIH only requires data sharing plans for proposals requesting more than $500,000 per year in funding; these plans generally consist of a brief paragraph outlining the size and complexity of the datasets to be generated by the research, how the data will be shared, and how confidentiality will be protected (examples). The intent of these data management requirements is to encourage open and timely sharing of research data and ensure that data are stored in a secure and accessible manner.
Why manage your data?
The Tufts Data Management Services online resource highlights a number of reasons why managing your data is important. In addition to meeting the new requirements from funding agencies, thoughtful management of your data can
Help with Data Management Plans: Resources for Tufts Researchers
Assistance with data management and preparing data management plans is available to Tufts researchers through the Tisch Library. Data Management Services (DMS) Coordinator Regina Raboin and her team have created an online Data Management resource that includes information about data management requirements for various funding agencies, links to data repositories and data sharing services, and a primer on documentation and metadata. DMS consultants are also available to help researchers individually with preparation of data management plans (DMPs) for grant applications. An initial interview in person or by phone can help researchers identify the types of data a project will generate as well as the available methods for storage, access, and archiving. The DMS team will also review drafts of data management plans for grant proposals prior to submission. The team has experience in research, collection development, and metadata/cataloging and can highlight information from your grant narrative that needs to be included in a DMP.
Raboin recommends that researchers pay particular attention to two aspects of a DMP: metadata and open access. These reflect the major priorities of data management: to provide sufficient information for data interpretation in the future and to promote open sharing of knowledge.
Although most agencies have yet to establish procedures for monitoring data management plans, it is important to be sure that your plan is achievable and appropriate for your data and field.
Contents of the Data Management Plan: The NSF guidelines as a framework for understanding data management
The NSF data management requirements provide a good overview of what to consider when preparing a DMP. Links to the general guidelines for NSF DMPs and to additional program- or directorate-specific guidelines are available on the NSF website.
The general policy recommends that researchers answer the five questions paraphrased here:
Whom should I contact to request help with data management?