Penn State Data Management Plan Tutorial

Key Take-Away Points

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A DMP tells how a researcher will keep track of data for future access and preservation during the course of the research project being proposed. If you are applying to the NSF for funding, then consult the website of the directorate or division for the grant program; some NSF directorates and divisions have more focused guidelines for the DMP.

It's highly recommended that you consult with the University Libraries on the DMP; this is so we have knowledge of the project, can plan ahead if necessary, and can review the DMP prior to submission. Email and a librarian will get back to you in response to your inquiry.

The following lists what a DMP needs to address:

  • The types of data to be collected or produced during the project, and the processes or methodology for doing so
    • Discuss what kind of data will be generated (e.g., sample, specimen, observational, simulation, etc.) and how (methods)
  • The formats for the data and the standards that will be followed for documenting and describing the data
    • Describe what formats the data will take (e.g., text files, numerical, multimedia, software/code, discipline-specific formats, etc.) and what standards will be used (could be a generic standard, such as Dublin Core element set, or could be a standard prescribed by your research community)
  • The availability of the data, including information about ways in which the data will be accessed, and whether there are any issues related to privacy and/or intellectual property
    • If your project will be generating sensitive data, then special measures need to be taken to restrict access and use; this is similar for data on patent-pending projects
    • Confirm whether IRB approval and consent forms are needed; if so, then the DMP should mention these.
  • The guidelines, procedures, or policies for data reuse and/or redistribution, attribution, as well as for creation of derivatives from the data
    • Just as it's important to restrict data if it is sensitive, it is important to be clear about uses of data when they are shared - are derivatives allowed, for example?
  • The measures that will be taken to help ensure the long-term preservation of, and access to, the data- including possible mention of factors such as form
    • Ensuring that the data from your project are preserved - and thus made accessible on an ongoing basis - means implementing a distributed approach to storing the data for the duration of the project and depositing your data to a repository (search for a repository relevant to your data in DataBib), for broader sharing.
    • In the absence of a disciplinary repository for your data, consider depositing your data to ScholarSphere, Penn State's repository service.

Creating a data management plan does not need to take a lot of time and can be very beneficial to you as a researcher. As Dr. Stephenson describes, DMPs are useful in the long run.

Link to YouTube video.