Data management planning

A data management plan helps achieve optimal handling, organising, documenting and enhancing of research data. It is particularly important for facilitating data sharing, ensuring the sustainability and accessibility of data in the long-term, and allowing data to be reused for future research.

For the effective management of data, planning must start when research is being designed and needs to consider both how data will be managed during the research and how they will be shared afterwards. This involves thinking critically of how research data can be shared, what might limit or prohibit data sharing, and whether any steps can be taken to remove such limitations

Many public research funders require a data management and sharing plan as part of research grant applications, and expect data to be shared. In the UK, all seven research councils require data management plans, as do the Wellcome Trust, DFID and Cancer Research UK; the ESRC introduced this requirement in 2011.

Key issues for data management planning in research

  • know your legal, ethical and other obligations regarding research data, towards research participants, colleagues, research funders and institutions
  • implement good practices in a consistent manner
  • assign roles and responsibilities to relevant parties in the research
  • design data management according to the needs and purpose of research
  • be trained in data management and sharing topics
  • incorporate data management measures as an integral part of your research cycle
  • implement and review data management throughout research as part of research progression and review

Our data management checklist can point you to key matters to consider in a data management and sharing plan.

Back to top