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Data Management for Research

This guide presents information on the effective management of data created through research — including creating a data management plan for grant or project proposals, preserving data after project completion and sharing data with other researchers.


Creating a Data Management Plan

Creating a Data Management Plan is your opportunity to think through and plan for different stages in the data lifecycle. The Data Management Plan outlines your needs and goals for collecting, organizing, documenting, preserving, and distributing the data associated with your research project.

Key Questions to Consider

Questions that should be addressed by a data management plan:

  • What research data will be created?
  • What policies (funding, institutional, and legal) apply to the data?
  • What data management practices (backups, storage, access control, archiving) will be used?
  • What facilities and equipment will be required (hard-disk space, backup server, and repository)?
  • Who will own and have access to the data?
  • Who will be responsible for each aspect of the plan?
  • How will data reuse be enabled?
  • How will long-term preservation be ensured after the original research is completed?

More Detailed Questions to Consider

  • What is the purpose of the research?
  • What is the data?
  • How and in what format will the data be collected?
  • Is the data numerical data, image data, text sequences, modeling data, etc.?
  • How long will the data be collected?
  • How often will the data change?
  • Who is responsible for managing the data?
  • Who will ensure that the data management plan is carried out?
  • Are you using data that someone else produced? If so
    • Where is the data form?
    • What permissions do you require to re-use the data?
  • Are there policies (funding, institutional, or legal) which might impact the use of the data or guide your use of the data?
  • What documentation will you be creating in order to make the data understandable by other researchers?
  • Are you using metadata that is standard to your filed?
  • How will metadata be managed and stored?
  • What file formats will be used?
  • Will the file formats conform to an open standard and/or are they proprietary?
  • What directory and file naming convention will be used?
  • What are the local storage procedures?
  • Will the data require secure storage?
  • What are your backup procedures?
  • What tools or software are required to read or view the data?
  • How much storage space will you need?
  • Will you require server/storage support?
  • Who will provided the server/storage space?
  • Will you need backup servers/storage?
  • Can you place your data in a disciplinary or institutional repository?
  • Who has the right to manage this data?  Is it the PI, student, lab, UMSL, or funding agency?
  • Who holds intellectual property rights for the data and other associated information?
  • Who is responsible for the plan as a whole and each aspect?  Is it the PI, student, lab, UMSL, or funding agency?
  • Who will be responsible for the data after the research is complete? For how long?
  • What data will be shared? When and where?
  • Does sharing the data raise privacy, ethical, or confidentiality concerns?
  • Do you have a plan to anonymize data if needed?
  • Who holds the intellectual property rights for the data and other information created by the project?
  • Will any copyrighted or licensed materials be used?
  • Do you have permission to use or/disseminate any licensed or copyrighted materials?
  • Are there any patent or technology-licensing-related restrictions on data sharing associated with your grant?
  • Will the research be published in a journal that requires the underlying data to accompany the articles?
  • Will you permit re-use, redistribution, or creation of new tools, services, data sets, or products (derivatives)?
  • Will commercial use be allowed?
  • How will you archive your data?
  • Will you be storing it in an archive or repository for long-term access? If not how do you plan to preserve access to your data?
  • Is a discipline repository available? 
  • Have you considered deposing you data in the UMSL Institutional Repository Library, IRL@UMSL?
  • How will you prepare your data for preservation or data sharing? Will the data need to be anonymized or converted to a more stable file format?
  • How long should the data be retained? 3-5 years, 10 years, or forever?

Suggested Text When Utilizing Scholars' Mine for Data Access and Archiving

Data dissemination and policies for public access, sharing and publication delays

"The data (specify what data or refer to a prior section in you plan where data is discussed) will be and remain publicly available via the UMSL Institutional Repository Library, an open-access digital archive for the scholarly output of the University of Missouri-St. Louis community. This institutional repository is part of the Digital Commons network of repositories and provides a perpetual archive, indexed by major search engines. The data and metadata are managed by professional librarians, with technical assistance from information technology professionals. Users will be asked to provide appropriate attribution  if any of the data is used."

Data storage and preservation of access

"The long-term strategy for maintaining, curating, and archiving the data involves depositing it in the University of Missouri-St. Louis Institutional  Repository Library (IRL@UMSL), for long-term preservation and to ensure that the research community has continuing access to the data. IRL@UMSL provides a perpetual archive, indexed by major search engines, follows accepted backup and archival practices, and is managed by professional librarians with technical assistance from information technology professionals. (If not depositing in a repository, explain the plan for long-term preservation of the data, including backup procedures.) (if applicable) Data cleaning and/or anonymization will be done prior to preservation and/or sharing of the data. Along with the data and metadata, additional documentation to be deposited will consist of (specify, for example, archival journal papers and conference papers after all copyright and publisher requirements are met)."

The two sections of text above are licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Faculty and staff at this institution my use it as is or modify it for use in their data management plans. You may cite this page as your source.

Resources for Creating Plans

  • To access the Data Management Plan Tool click the DMPTool logo above or visit:

Data Management Lifecycle