The purpose of a data management plan is to guarantee the quality and validity of research data and its effective further use.
A data management plan is part of a research plan. It steers the researcher to consider the use of the research data methodically throughout the research process in accordance with good scientific practice. A data management plan describes the life-cycle of the research data, in other words, how the data is used and processed in the various phases of the research.
A data management plan describes the kind of data intended to be gathered during the research and how the data is intended to be processed and analysed. The plan also defines whether processing and use of the data is affected by copyright or intellectual property rights and states how the data is intended to be stored during the research and thereafter.
A data management plan describes the life-cycle of the research data, in other words, how the data is used and processed in the various phases of the research.
Plans should also take into account subsequent use of the data, in other words how the data is intended to be made openly available for the use of the scientific community. If the researcher does not intend to make their data openly available, the reason for reaching this decision must be given.
The work of drawing up a data management plan should start as early as the research planning stage. When writing a plan, it is also essential to factor in that the use and storage of the research data and the ability to make it openly available may also be affected by recommendations from one’s own research organisation, funders or publishers.
It is not necessary to complete a data management plan all at once; it is a document that is updated and fine-tuned throughout the entire research process.
There is no set form that a data management plan has to take. However, the DMPTuuli data management planning tool designed for Finnish research organisations may be of assistance when writing one. Open to everyone, this tool provides instructions and templates for planning the management of research data.
Katja Fält, Humanities Research Specialist, Finnish Social Science Data Archive
Finnish Social Science Data Archive data management handbook: http://www.fsd.uta.fi/aineistonhallinta/en/data-management-planning.html
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