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Research Data Management: Create a plan

Why have a data management plan?

A Data Management Plan (DMP) describes how research data will be managed throughout your research project. It can begin as a basic plan and further information can be added as the project progresses. It covers areas such as:

  • What data will be created
  • Where will the data be stored
  • Who will own and have access to the data
  • How will the data be preserved
  • How will sensitive data be treated

Having a data management plan at the start of a research project can help overcome problems such as loss of data or violation of participants’ privacy. Basic data management is required by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Compliance with the Code is already a requirement for the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding and is likely to be mandated by other funding bodies, Government and institutions in the near future. (Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Data Management Plans ANDS guide, 2017, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License).

It is recommended you create a Data Management Plan when applying for a grant, or soon after starting research.

You can easily create a data management plan to attach to your grant application, using the University's tool MyDMP.

The Code

“Share and communicate research methodology, data and findings openly, responsibly and accurately.” – Principle 3: Transparency.

The 2018 Code is a principles-based document that articulates the broad principles and responsibilities that underpin the conduct of Australian research.

The Code:

  • provides guidelines for responsible research conduct, including around data retention, storage and confidentiality
  • promotes integrity and best practice in research

FAIR data principles

Findable Accessible Interoperable Reusable

Develop a research data management plan based on the FAIR data principles.

Making research data FAIR will provide a range of benefits to researchers, research communities, research infrastructure facilities and research organisations alike.

See the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) website for more details.

Funding body expectations

"The Australian Research Council's (ARC)  requirement is designed to encourage researchers to consider the ways in which they can best manage, store, disseminate and reuse data. Researchers, in consultation with institutions, have a responsibility to consider the management and future potential of their research data, taking into account the particular approaches, standards and uses for data that may exist in different institutions, disciplines and research projects. Some institutions may have infrastructure and/or processes in place for storing, managing and sharing data – these are valuable resources that should be utilised.

The ARC does not require that full, detailed data management plans be submitted for assessment, but from 2020 will require that such plans are in place prior to the commencement of the project."  - ARC Research Data Management statement

The ARC does not mandate open data but encourages researchers to make data generated from ARC funded research available for re-use.

"NHMRC acknowledges the importance of making research data publicly accessible and therefore strongly encourages researchers to consider the reuse value of their data and to take reasonable steps to share research data and associated metadata arising from NHMRC supported research." - NHMRC Open Access Policy

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) encourages researches to share data generated through NHMRC funded research, by making it available through repositories or databases.

Please note this example should be adapted or adjusted to suit your particular research project.

Australian Research Council (ARC) example:

"Research data generated by the project will be stored and managed in the University of South Australia storage infrastructure. On completion of the project, commercially non-sensitive research data will be transferred to Research Data Services (RDS) and retained for 5 years as required by South Australian legislation and will be made available through Open Access on the UniSA Research Data Access Portal under CC-BY licence. Metadata relating to the project and associated datasets will be discoverable on the Research Data Australia website. Any confidential or identifiable data will held securely and will only be made available to researchers who have appropriate approvals for access to the data. The datasets will form part of a collaborative water science related data project under the auspices of X."

Explore Research Grants and Projects

Research Data Australia provide a separate database with search feature to locate Activity records. This discovery service includes grant information from Australia's principal research funders as well as project descriptions from some institutions and agencies. These descriptions can include connections to related datasets and publications.

To assist with identifying Projects the Australian National Data Service can create Persistent Uniform Resource Locator (PURL) for funded grants and projects. 

Questions to consider

Image representing a paper, cogs and binary numbersGeneral research project details

  • Who is funding it?
  • What is the timeframe?
  • How would you describe your project?
  • What Fields of Research (FoR) Codes relate to your project?
  • What keywords would you apply to describe your project?
  • Who are you collaborating with?

Copyright symbolIntellectual Property - Who owns the data?

  • What agreements have you entered into with partners or collaborators?
  • What does university IP policy or your agreements with external partners state?
  • What rights are stipulated in agreements? ie use for teaching, research, commercialisation of research
  • Do any rights expire after a certain timeframe?

Image representing cloud computer storageStorage and Security of data

  • How long do you have to store data legally?
  • Where will you store your data?
  • How will your store it?
  • Who will have access to it? What type of access? How will this be enforced?

Image representing computer networkingData sharing and re-use

  • What consent has been provided by participants?
  • Can data be made available open access?
  • Does data need to be de-identified?
  • Is there an embargo on the data?