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Research Data Services at Penn State Harrisburg

This guide provides an overview of research data services available in the Madlyn L. Hanes Library at Penn State Harrisburg.

What is a Data Management Plan?

A data management plan (DMP) is a written document that describes and outlines the data that you expect to acquire and/or create throughout your research process. Data management plans aim to ensure and broaden access to federally funded research data. Typically, the DMP is 1-2 pages in length and covers five functional areas:

  1. Data and data collection,
  2. Documenting the data,
  3. Data sharing and access,
  4. Reuse and redistribution of data, and
  5. Archiving and preservation of data.

Increasingly, U.S. funding agencies require researchers to include a thorough DMP for all federally funded research. Reviewing the information on this guide will assist you in creating a clear and concise data management plan. Below are some helpful questions to consider while crafting your DMP. Depending upon your research project and research aims, some of these questions may not apply. However, it is best practice to include as much information as necessary so the readers of your grant proposal know you are prepared.

Data and data collection

In this section of your DMP, you will want to:

  • Briefly describe research methodology
  • How will you collect data? What are goals of collection?
  • What types of data?
    • observational, experimental, simulation, etc.
  • What formats will your data be in?
    • Text files, numerical data, modeling data, software code, etc.
  • Are specific tools or software needed to view your data?
    • Excel, SPSS, open source, etc.
  • Can you estimate how fast (or slow) your data will grow?
  • Where will data be kept? How much storage space do you need?

Documenting the data

Best practices for documenting research data varies by discipline. If you are unfamiliar with the documentation scheme for your discipline, check out the Digital Curation Centre's disciplinary metadata standards document.

  • General description:
    • Title, format, specimen, date, location, etc.
  • Will you have and include a codebook for your data?
  • Are you using controlled vocabulary, thesauri, taxonomies?

Below are direct links to a few popular metadata and/or data documentation standards for a variety of disciplines that may help you with documenting your data.

Data sharing and access

In this section of your DMP, you should address questions such as:

  • Can your data be legally and ethically shared?
  • Does your data contain personally identifiable data (PII)?
    • If so, address how you plan to share and/or provide access to PII.
  • Is it patent-pending research?
  • Do you have concerns about intellectual property rights?
  • Whose role it is to monitor data embargoes, consent forms, confidentiality agreements, etc.?

Reuse and redistribution of data

When completing this section, consider the following questions:

  • How data in your field are typically shared and accessed by others? Will you follow this?
  • Will there be different levels of access to data?
    • If so, be specific.
  • When will the data be shared?
  • How much of the data will be shared?
  • Will there be restrictions on use of data?
    • If so, be specific.

Archiving and preservation of data

When you complete this section of your DMP, consider the following:

  • Where will the data be stored?
  • How long will data be stored? Will it be destroyed?
  • How will data be handled, managed, and kept secure?

When possible, it's useful to keep three copies of your data:

  • Master file
  • External hard drive
  • External, remote storage / remote server

Additional learning resources

Below are a variety of resources that will assist in crafting your data management plan.