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
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.
- Data Type
- Related Tools, Software and/or Codes
- Data Preservation, Access, and Associated Timelines
- Access, Distribution, and/or Reuse Considerations
- Oversight of Data Management and Sharing
When considering your data management plan, remember
- All data should be managed; not all data must be shared. See the NIH's response to "Am I expected to share all data generated during my research?"
- According to its policy, NIH expects researchers to “maximize the appropriate sharing of scientific data, acknowledging certain factors (i.e., legal, ethical, or technical) that may affect the extent to which scientific data are preserved and shared.”
- For more information about each of the six components above, see the NIH Writing a Data Management Plan and the Data Management Plan Checklist for Researchers (Working Group on NIH DMSP Guidance - hosted on the Open Science Framework).
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.
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".
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.
- DataWorks! DMP Challenge winning entry by Damian Yukio Romero Diaz, "Using natural language processing to determine predictors of healthy diet and physical activity behavior change in ovarian cancer survivors"
- NIH DMS Template (Word document will be updated periodically)
- NIH Sample Plans
- Clinical and/or MRI Data from Human Research Participants
- Genomic Data from Human Research Participants
- Genomic Data from a Non-human Source
- Secondary Data Analysis
- Working Group on NIH DMSP Guidance(hosted on the Open Science Framework):
- Annotated example: Converting a Resource Sharing Plan into a DMS Plan
- American Association of Immunologists Guide to Developing Your NIH Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan
- Always consult the NIH Guide to Budgeting for Data Management and Sharing to understand allowable costs; check regularly for the most current version and understand that the date of the grant may impact allowable costs.
- You may also benefit from these supplemental community tools for estimating costs (while originally developed for specific disciplines or institutions, they contain universal principles valuable to any research project).
- Provide Budget Information for Your DMP (DataONE)
- How to Identify and Assess Research Data Management (RDM) Costs (OpenAIRE)
- Data Management Costs (TU Delft)
- Costing Data Management (includes a budgeting tool) (UK Data Archive)
- Anticipating the Costs of RDM (University of Bristol)
- 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.
- 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.