Writing a Data Management Plan

A data management plan (DMP) is a document that outlines how to manage and share the scientific data generated in your research project. DMPs are required for every NIH project using scientific data, in alignment with the 2023 NIH Data Management Sharing Policy. This page walks you through:

  • The components of a DMP
  • How to create a DMP
  • Example Data Management Plans

Watch: "What Is a Data Management Plan?"

DMP Plan Components

Your DMP will outline the planned collection, management, and storage of the scientific data associated with your specific research project. To create a plan, you will need to document the types of scientific data you will collect, the standards or tools used for curation, and how you will manage storage and access.

NIH Data Management and Sharing Plans are recommended to be two pages or fewer and contain six components according to the NIH draft template

  1. Data Type
  2. Related Tools, Software and/or Codes
  3. Standards
  4. Data Preservation, Access, and Associated Timelines
  5. Access, Distribution, and/or Reuse Considerations
  6. Oversight of Data Management and Sharing

When considering your data management plan, remember

Watch: "Preparing a DMP"

How to Create a Data Management Plan

The easiest way to create your plan is to use DMPTool, which is designed to walk you through the process. Create a new plan by selecting the “NIH-GEN DMSP (Forthcoming 2023)" template (which you can download in Word or PDF to prepare your responses. Additionally, researchers from participating institutions can access the system with their institutional login to:

  • Easily complete a DMP with context-specific institutional information and
  • Connect with local services to help create and implement a DMP.

Alternative to DMPTool, you can use resources listed on NIH guide to Writing a Data Management Plan, such as NIH's own draft template.   

Contact key staff at your institution (e.g., your research team, research office or grant administrator, IT, and/or library) for information on local data management practices, as well as to see if they can advise you on creating and optimizing your plan.

View this slide presentation "Preparing for the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy: An Overview and Case Study on Imaging Data".

Watch: "Creating a Data Management Plan"

Example Data Management Plans

While your DMP should be specific to your research project, example or template DMPs can provide a sense of what others have included in their plans. (Note: some of the DMPs linked below were submitted for other research funders (e.g., National Science Foundation). Regardless of funder, customizing a DMP to your research project is required and will maximize its value to you and all stakeholders.


NIH has a planned assessment process for all DMPs. One way you can prepare for the assessment process is to review the quality of your plan for your own purposes. Consult our free Evaluation Rubric for the DataWorks! DMP Challenge to assist your preparation.

Generating and implementing a robust Data Management and Sharing Plan can boost your credibility with a range of stakeholders (including your institution, collaborators, team members, grant reviewers, and current and future funders). For this NIH requirement, according to the Office of Science Policy, “If award recipients are not compliant with Plans at the end of the award, noncompliance may be factored into future funding decisions.”

Data management activities are integral to the research process, requiring appropriate resources that must be planned for and budgeted alongside postdoctoral stipends, equipment, and supplies. NIH encourages investigators request funds for data management and sharing in their budget. Resources are available to help you estimate costs, including:

Some researchers get stuck because they worry their DMP must be “perfect.” In creating your DMP, keep in mind the spirit of such funder policies:
  • Think and plan deliberately for how you will manage your data throughout your research, including for your own benefit. Ask questions such as "What can I do to make it easier for lab mates (future students and colleagues) to find and reuse the scientific data collected, analyzed, and/or generated?" and "What if they needed to replicate the research experiment?" Also consider what scientific data you collect could be useful to the broader community and how to make reuse of that data more achievable.

Here are three keys steps you can take to ensure success:
  • To comply with the NIH Policy, start your data management plan using DMPTool. 
  • Take advantage of local services at your institution—contact your library, research office, and/or IT department to see what they might be able to offer. 
  • Leverage resources tailored to your discipline. As we build out the DataWorks! Help Desk, we will provide further detailed resources for biology and biomedicine.