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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Data Management Plans

Elements to Include

The particular requirements of a data management plan will vary among funding agencies so it is best to always consult the agency. However there are a few attributes which are common to all data management plans including:

  1. Types of data to be produced
  2. Description and the methodology of how the data will be collected
  3. Standards that would be applied for format, i.e. metadata
  4. Provisions for archiving and preservation
  5. Backup and storage procedures
  6. Access policies and provisions for secondary uses
  7. Plans for eventual transition of the data collection after project is complete
  8. Any protection or security measures taken to protect participant confidentiality or intellectual property

Choosing a Data Repository

As part of your plan for preserving and disseminating your data, you may choose to deposit some or all of it in a digital repository or archive. Depositing your data in a repository makes it more accessible to other scholars and allows you to rely on the data management expertise of those who maintain the repository. If you decide to use a data repository as part of your data management plan, consider:

  • Your needs and the requirements of your institution and funder. Is long-term preservation of your data important to you? Are you interested in making your data available to other researchers in your field and/or the general public?
  • Copyright, intellectual property, and privacy. Would public deposit of your data in a repository be compatible with your institution, funder, and publishers' policies for data dissemination? Does your research involve potentially sensitive information, such as valuable intellectual property or information about human subjects, that will need to be carefully managed? 
  • The intended audience(s) for your data, and where they might most easily access the data. For example, if your data is primarily useful for other researchers in your discipline, is there a discipline-specific repository that is widely used by your colleagues? 
  • The repository's technical specifications. Does the repository store the type and volume of data you need to store?  How do they handle metadata--information about your data such as authorship, version, and subject--that makes it easier to find and use your data?  What about backups and secure storage? If you deposit your data in the repository, will people be able to find it using Google, WorldCat, or other search tools? 
  • The repository's administrative requirements for depositing data. Who may deposit data in the repository? Are there fees? Do their policies for access, security, and intellectual property meet your needs? 
  • The repository's potential for long-term stability. Who maintains the repository, and what type of administrative and financial plans do they have for providing access to the data in the coming years?  As technology changes and data formats become obsolete, does the repository have a process in place to migrate old data to newer formats?