Michigan State University

Lifecycle Data Management Planning

Why manage research data? Data are information assets that greatly increase in use value through active management. By planning the management of your research data at proposal time it is possible to:

  • Secure funding specifically for research data management
  • Improve the impact and visibility of your research
  • Improve and standardize data management practice and policy in your lab
  • Facilitate collaboration, increase research efficiency, and make new discoveries
  • Assure the greatest return on investment by adapting a value chain model

Says Who?

Lifecycle management of data is becoming increasingly important to funding agencies and many agencies now encourage data management, re-use, and sharing plans. Some major funders even require a formal "Data Management Plan" (DMP) in order to be competitively considered for funding. Below is a list of agencies that have encouraged or mandated that grant proposals include a Data Management Plan:

US Federal Funding Agency Policy and Guideline Status More information
Department of Energy (DOE) DOE's CIO has primary responsibility to ensure that Information Technology (IT) is acquired and information resources are managed in a manner consistent with statutory, regulatory, and Departmental requirements and priorities. With this responsibility, the CIO provides information resources management advice and assistance to the Secretary of Energy and to other senior managers.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA does not have an official data management and sharing policy
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) IMLS does not have an official data management and sharing policy
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) "NASA promotes the full and open sharing of all data with the research and applications communities, private industry, academia, and the general public."
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) "The Federal Ocean Data Policy requires that appropriate ocean data and related information collected under federal sponsorship be submitted to and archived by designated national data centers."
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) NEH does not have an official data management and sharing policy
National Institutes of Health (NIH) "The NIH expects and supports the timely release and sharing of final research data from NIH-supported studies for use by other researchers. ...[I]nvestigators submitting an NIH application seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any single year are expected to include a plan for data sharing or state why data sharing is not possible."
National Science Foundation (NSF) "Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing."

"Proposals submitted to NSF must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled 'Data Management Plan'. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results."

Specific program guidance:

Table used and adapted with permission from CDL's UC3

Plan for it!

Throughout this guide you will find tips, recommendations, and prompts that will help you write a Data Management Plan for your research project. These recommendations are meant to address the primary concerns of grant funding agencies, but they will likely inform practice and policy in your own research environment whether or not you are writing for a grant. This guide is an attempt to highlight and allow researchers to answer the questions raised in the Interagency Working Group on Digital Data to the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council's report "Harnessing the Power of Digital Data for Science and Society" (January 2009) by mapping such concerns to the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Version 3.0 Combined Lifecycle Model. This guide is intended for MSU students, faculty, administrators and colleagues.

Your Data Management Plan will need to cater to your research, domain, and available resources. However, any project which generates a significant amount of digital research data should include a Data Management Plan.

General DMP Template: