Data Management Plans

Data Management Plans (DMPs)

The first step towards managing your research data is coming up with a DMP, preferably before you begin data collection.

A DMP is a formal document that details the strategies and tools you will implement to effectively manage your data during the active phase of your research, and the mechanisms you will use for preserving and appropriately sharing your data at the end of the project. DMPs are living documents that can be modified to accommodate changes throughout the course of a research project. The content and length of DMPs depend on the research project, but all DMPs should describe:

  • how data will be collected, documented, formatted, protected, secured, preserved and kept confidential if appropriate;
  • how existing datasets will be used and what new data will be created over the course of the research project;
  • whether and how data will be shared; 
  • where data will be deposited;
  • who is responsible for managing the project’s data;
  • describe the succession plans in place should that person leave the research team;
  • identify the data-related roles and responsibilities of other team members where appropriate;
  • outlines ethical, legal and commercial constraints the data are subject to; and,
  • addresses methodological considerations that support or preclude data sharing.
For research conducted by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, collectives and organizations, DMPs must be co-developed with these communities in accordance with RDM principles or DMP formats that these communities accept. DMPs in the context of research by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities should recognize Indigenous data sovereignty. 

Funding agencies are also increasingly expecting that grant proposals include a robust research data management plan. On this point, Canada's Tri-Agency has now published a research data management policy and it is expected that formal DMPs will soon be required as part of many funding calls soon. To date, the following grants require a DMP:

CIHR: Network Grants in Skin Health and Muscular Dystrophy; Data Science for Equity; Virtual Care/Digital Health Team Grants (launch Fall 2022, application deadline Winter 2023)
NSERC: Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants (Individual and Project, 2023)
SSHRC: Partnership Grants Phase 2 (2023)

DMP Assistant, managed by the Digital Research Alliance of Canada, is a key to meet the evolving Data Management Plan requirements of Canadian funders, including the Tri-Council (SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR). The tool is free and works similarly to a wizard: answer some questions about your project, and it produces output that with minimal tweaking is ready to be added to grant application forms. 

It is good practice to make a DMP whether your research is funded or not.

Please see the following checklist which can assist you while creating a formal data management plan. 

If you would like assistance creating a DMP, contact Research Data Librarian Berenica Vejvoda to set up an appointment. 

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