3.3 Data management plan

To ensure coherent and up-to-date data documentation and management, the creation of a Data Management Plan (DMP) is recommended. The function of a DMP is to collect relevant information about data and its handling throughout the project. While agreements may document some aspects regulating data use and handling throughout a project, a DMP collects relevant information into one document, and also allows for a more detailed description of practical aspects of data management. A DMP can be updated as the situation changes.  The use of existing DMP templates is encouraged, such as the European Commission’s Horizon Europe DMP template (https://enspire.science/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Horizon-Europe-Data-Management-Plan-Template.pdf). If a funding agency is involved, a DMP may be recommended or even required.

Data Management Plans are instrumental in facilitating the adoption of the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles. While these principles offer a high-level framework, their implementation can vary. The Horizon Europe DMP template helps translate these abstract principles into concrete action by posing specific, relevant questions.

Example Questions from the Horizon Europe DMP Template:

  • Making data findable: Will rich metadata be provided to allow discovery?
  • Making data accessible: Will the data be deposited in a trusted repository?
  • Making data interoperable: What data and metadata vocabularies, standards, formats or methodologies will you follow to make your data interoperable to allow data exchange and re-use within and across disciplines?
  • Increase data re-use: How will you provide documentation needed to validate data analysis and facilitate data re-use (e.g., readme files with information on methodology, codebooks, data cleaning, analyses, variable definitions, units of measurement, etc.)?

Questions about data collection, personal and sensitive information, data ownership, rights, and access may have been dealt with in other project-related documents, but not all. Other questions, about provenance and metadata standards, are closely linked to the next chapter. Additionally, we recommend using Science Europe’s Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management – Extended Edition (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4915862) as a guide for Data Management Plans.