Surveying Existing & Potential Data:
The first step in writing a strong DMP is to inventory all the data—data you’re using, producing, and sharing.
Organization & Management:
Funders want to see that you have a plan for responsibly managing data as it is being created and accessed by project team members. This is particularly important for research that involves human subjects or personally identifiable information. A good rule of thumb is to keep three copies of your data in geographically dispersed locations. At Ball State, some units maintain servers for such active data management, though a tool like Box may also be suitable for some research. With funding from the NIH, DARPA, and others, the Center for Open Science has also developed a popular, free collaborative research environment, the Open Science Framework.
Formats, Standards, & Documentation:
Different funders will look for different levels of detail in a data management plan, but it’s important to understand the details of how you will describe your data so that others may access, understand, and reuse it. The answers to the questions below may vary widely depending on the nature of your data, your plans for data sharing, disciplinary best practices, publisher/funder requirements, etc.
Long-Term Preservation & Data Sharing:
Funders are increasingly concerned with how data is saved and disseminated over time, in part to ensure long-term impact of grant dollars. Whether or not your funder requires it, it is a good idea to deposit your digital files in a system managed by an organization—Ball State, a scholarly society, a funder, etc.—rather than trying to care for data on your own in perpetuity after your research has concluded. Ball State University Libraries can offer support in this area, though depending on your discipline/needs there are many other options such as Dryad, ICPSR, Figshare, Open Context, Humanities Commons, etc. The Registry of Research Data Repositories offers a large directory of options. Many funders and repositories require that you allow public access to the data generated by your project, though there is typically an option to embargo access for a limited period of time.