Scholarly Communications

Research data management

What should I include in a Data Management Plan (DMP)?

Data management plans (DMPs) are required by many major research funders as part of the grant application process. It is good practice to write a DMP for all research projects.

The DMP outlines how data will be managed throughout your research project and how it will be able to be accessed at the end of the project. You should follow the guidance of your funder when writing a DMP as funder requirements vary.

Funder specific guidance

The guides in this section have been written to help you better understand the needs of your specific funder:

Arts and Humanities Research Council - AHRC Technical Plan guide

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council - BBSRC data management plan guide

Economic and Social Research Council - ESRC data management plan guide

Medical Research Council - MRC data management plan guide

Natural Environment Research Council - NERC data management plan guide

Wellcome Trust - Wellcome Trust data management plan guide

Further Loughborough specific guidance can be found on DMPonline. DMPonline is an internationally recognised tool to assist you in writing your data management plan.

Existing data

What to consider:

  • Have you checked if there is existing data on your topic that your research can build on?
  • Where have you looked for this data?
  • Have you found any other projects conducting research in your area?

Possible wording:

  • No existing datasets are available that are relevant to the proposed research project. A search was conducted on the UK Data Service and no results were found.
  • The project will build on the work of Dr A N Other and the relevant data is archived in the UK Data Service [reference number...]. Other relevant datasets can be found at [...].
  • Dr A N Other is working on a project in a similar field and a data sharing contract has been put into place to allow for data sharing between the two projects.

Responsibilities

What to consider:

  • Who will be responsible for the data during all stages of the project eg, for data collection, use, storage and archiving?
  • If you will be working with other people, will there be regular meetings and/or guidance documentation to ensure the adequate management of the data across the team?

Possible wording:

  • The PrincipaI Investigator (PI) will be responsible for the management of the research data throughout the life of the project.
  • At the start of the project the research team will draw up research data management policy and procedures.
  • The research team will have regular [monthly/quarterly?] meetings to ensure all members have the same research data management procedures and policies in place. The senior project member at each institution will be responsible for research data management at that institution. The PI will have overall responsibility for data management.

Storage

What to consider:

  • Where will you store your research data?
  • Does the University provide enough storage space for your data or will it need to be stored elsewhere?
  • Can the data be stored on cloud storage?

Possible wording:

  • The data will be stored on the secure University file space. Each researcher is allocated 2GB of individual, backed up network storage and can request additional storage space for this research project. Any data collected in the field will be stored on the PI’s laptop and backed up daily to an encrypted external hard drive before being transferred to the network drive at the earliest opportunity.
  • All sensitive data will be stored on the PI’s encrypted laptop and backed up to an encrypted hard drive which will be stored in a locked cupboard in a separate room to the laptop. Paper questionnaires will be stored in a locked filing cabinet in the PI’s office.
  • The data will be collected at Loughborough and transferred via a secure web connection to [insert storage place here]. This centre is fully secure and backed up daily. The data will be accessed via a secure connection.
  • All health related data will be stored on the NHS servers and accessed using NHS protocols.

Backup

What to consider:

  • Where will the data be backed up?
  • How will it be backed up?
  • How many backups will you have?
  • Will the backups be geographically separated?

Possible wording:

  • The research data will stored on the University network drive. This means it will be securely backed up every night. Details of this storage can be found on the IT webpages.
  • The data will be backed up onto the PI’s laptop daily, and weekly onto an encrypted external hard drive which will be kept in a separate location from both the office PC and PI’s laptop.

Data formats

What to consider:

  • What data formats will you use to collect and store your data?
  • Are the formats widely used or specific to your project?
    • If specific, why are you not using more widely used formats?
  • Are the formats “open” or “proprietary”?

Possible wording:

  • Where possible the project will use open or widely used data formats. This will include .TIFF for the image files and .flac format for the audio files.
  • The equipment being used produces the data in [...] format. Although this is not widely used, the data can be easily transferred to [insert format here]. The data will be shared in this format and both the original and the migrated format will be archived together.

Quality assurance

What to consider:

  • How will you ensure the quality of your data?
  • Will you store a master copy?
  • What versioning system will you use?
  • Will you check that data regularly e.g. for corrupted files?

Possible wording:

  • Version control will be used. This will include a version control table on the front page of each document produced.
  • A master copy of the data will be stored. No analysis will be run on this copy so if the working copy gets corrupted, lost or become unusable we will be able to create an identical working copy. The master copy will be backed up on […] to ensure its integrity.
  • The PI will check the data analysis of the PhD students on a monthly/weekly basis. An initial check will be made on the Research Assistant’s analysis and monthly meetings will be held to discuss data analysis. A consistent versioning system will be implemented by the team.

Sharing during the project

What to consider:

  • Are you going to share data during your project?
    • If so, how will it be shared and in what format?
    • Note that cloud storage should not be used for sensitive or commercial data.
  • With whom are you sharing data – are they internal or external to the University?
  • Do you have permission to share the data you are using?
    • Plan to get the correct consent at the beginning of the project

Possible wording:

  • Research data will be shared using the collaborative functionality within the Loughborough Data Repository.
  • Research data will be shared using cloud storage solutions (e.g. Wuala, Google Drive).
  • Because the data is commercially sensitive it will not be possible to share the research data.
  • The research data will be shared only amongst the immediate research group. The data will be shared using the University’s Group Workspace functionality which allows files and folders to be shared between specific staff using password control.
  • Only anonymised data will be shared.

Personal, sensitive and commercial data

What to consider:

  • Is your data covered by the Data Protection Act?
    • Plan to get the correct consent at the beginning of the project to store and share data
  • Is your data of a sensitive or confidential nature?
    • If so, what data protection measures will you take – encryption, no use of cloud storage etc.?
  • What does your ethical approval state about personal, sensitive and commercial data?
  • Will you anonymise the data so that a version can be made available on Open Access at the end of the project?
  • How will you ensure that you comply with what your contract with an external partner states about the use of data?

Possible wording:

  • The project will comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and University policies. All data covered by the DPA will be encrypted and kept on secure University filespace.
  • All data collected will be stored on secure University filespace. It will not be stored on any form of mobile device (laptop, tablet etc.).
  • All data will be kept on [insert organisation here – NHS, company name etc.]’s secure servers and will only be accessed on site.
  • Data will be fully anonymised before being made available on open access at the end of the project.
  • Agreements will be drawn up with commercial partners detailing how the data will be managed.

Copyright and intellectual property rights

What to consider:

  • Is copyright of the research data agreed or clarified, especially for collaborative research or if various sources of data are combined?
  • Are plans in place for copyright clearance for data sharing (if possible)?
  • If you are reusing somebody else's data, do you have permission to share it and/or publish it?
  • If you are working with external partners and/or commercial organisations do you have the necessary contracts or agreements in place?

Possible wording:

  • Copyright clearance will be obtained from the copyright holders of any data we re-use and publish at the end of the project.

Supporting documentation and metadata

What to consider:

  • When will you create the supporting documentation?
  • What supporting documentation will you create?
  • When will you create the metadata associated with your data?

Possible wording:

  • Individual researchers will be responsible for creating the supporting documentation. The supporting documentation will be written at the time the data is collected/created. Meetings will be held regularly to check documentation for accuracy and consistency.
  • The project team will liaise with [insert chosen archive here] during the project to ensure that the necessary documentation and metadata is provided with the data at point of deposit.

Archiving data

What to consider:

  • Where will you archive the data?
  • How will you select which data to archive?
  • Have you spoken to the archive manager about what data they will accept and in what formats and if there is a cost involved?
  • Check your obligations are to your funder. Many now require that data is preserved for a minimum period of time.
  • Check what embargo period your funder allows.
  • Check to see if your funder allows you to add data preservation costs as part of your application.

Possible wording:

  • Once the project is complete, selected data will be archived in the University’s data repository. The data will be assessed for deposit in liaison with the University’s Research Data Manager and Repository staff. All data that supports publications will be deposited and will be citable using a persistent identifier (DOI).
  • Data will be archived in the [insert data centre/museum/organisation here]. They have advised us on the supporting documentation and formats for deposit. A metadata only record will be put on Loughborough’s data repository with a link to the data in [insert data centre/museum/organisation here].