How to Create a Data Management Plan

Grant proposal season is upon us. Increasingly, writing a grant proposal also means writing a data management plan that details how data will be managed, preserved, and shared after a funded project ends. The Scholarly Communication Department offers a Data Management Planning service and works directly with PIs, grant writers, and administrators to create plans that align with funder requirements.

Why are data management plans required?

In February of 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a memo entitled “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” This memo mandated that all federal agencies with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures develop a plan for public access to research output. Data management plans, previously required only in some circumstances by some federal agencies, became widespread. By October 2016, all federal agencies meeting these criteria had implemented public access policies. These public access policies hinge on the precept that research funded by taxpayer dollars should be made available to the public, industry, and research community.

Why can’t I preserve data with my funding agency?

The 2013 OSTP memo was an unfunded mandate. This contributed to a landscape of distributed solutions provided by many stakeholders in academic research. Commercial publishers, universities, non profits, and government data centers all worked to support researchers working to comply with new data sharing guidelines. In some cases, individual directorates/divisions will provide or endorse a data repository, for example the Arctic Data Center for NSF-funded science on the Arctic, or GenBank, the NIH genetic sequence database. In other cases, researchers are expected to use their discretion in selecting an appropriate data sharing solution.

Where do I find data management plan requirements?

Indiana University is a member of the DMPTool, a tool that walks users through creating, reviewing, and sharing a data management plan.

screenshot of DMPTool

The tool has pre-fabricated templates for each directorate/division across funding organizations. To browse requirements for a specific funder, navigate to the DMP Requirements section and search for or select a funder from the list provided. To create a data management plan using one of these templates, log in to the tool using IU credentials and select the relevant funder from the list provided.

How do I choose a repository for my data?

This question is best answered on a case-by-case basis, but there are general guidelines that researchers can use to make the best choice. If in doubt, get in touch.

  1. If a repository is mandated by a funding organization, researchers must use this repository for sharing data
  2. If there is a widely-used disciplinary repository in your domain, consider choosing that repository. If you aren’t sure, check author guidelines for the top three journals in your field. Do they all recommend the same repository for sharing data? Alternately, take a look at to see a registry of disciplinary repositories.
  3. If you have no appropriate disciplinary repository, would rather not pay fees to deposit data, or prefer to keep your data with your institution, consider Indiana University’s institutional repository IUScholarWorks. It is completely free, operated by the Libraries, and designed to support funder requirements.
  4. If none of the above solutions are appropriate for your data and you need unique or specific features, look for an established, well-supported, open repository like Zenodo (Integrates with Github!) or Harvard’s Dataverse (APIs! Maps geospatial files!)

I want to use IUScholarWorks to preserve and share my data. What do I say in my plan?

Language for data management plans will differ depending on the project and the funder. However, many researchers have found the following statement to be a useful starting point in describing IUScholarWorks:

To increase access to the published research that has been funded, the researchers will deposit peer-reviewed or pre-print manuscripts (with linked supporting data where possible) in the IU ScholarWorks institutional repository. A DOI will be created for the data and used in all publications to facilitate discovery.
These data will be preserved according to the current digital preservation standards in place for content within the IU’s institutional repository infrastructure.  This includes a duplicate copy within the IU Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) and eventual deposit into the Digital Preservation Network preservation platform.
The combination of these systems provides mirroring, redundancy, media migration, access control, file integrity validation, embargoes, and other security-based services that ensure the data are appropriately archived for the life of the project and beyond.

I have a lot of data – can I still put it in IUScholarWorks?

Yes. In almost all cases, we are able to to provide free data archiving to IU-affiliated researchers through our partnership with the UITS Scholarly Data Archive. Large datasets live in the Scholarly Data Archive and are made accessible through IUScholarWorks by way of a persistent URL. Here is an example of a weather dataset published in IUScholarWorks.

Pro tip: You can drop off your dataset in the departmental staging area and send us an email with contextual information – we’ll do the heavy lifting and make sure it gets into IUScholarWorks.

Who can help me with my data management plan?

We can. Contact for assistance creating or implementing a data management plan. The Scholarly Communication Department can help to connect PIs with free campus-supported services to preserve and share data.