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Library Research Guides

Data Management Plans for the Social Sciences

Suggested resources for designing data management plans (DMP) for your research project.


Please note that these DMP excerpts are copyrighted by their respective authors.

“These data will provide a detailed experimental look at the mechanical regulation of mesenchymal stem cell osteogenesis. The data will further delineate the functional role of the cytoskeleton-focal adhesion-extracellular matrix signaling axis in the mechanoresponsive mesenchymal stem cell osteogenesis, as described in the main body of the proposal. As such, they will be of interest to the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine communities.”

This is a thorough description of who would be interested in the data.

Less Developed:
“No, or very little, derivative use of the data is expected since the research is aimed at developing machining process models and the data to be gathered is directed toward this end.”

A belief that others won’t be interested in your data is an insufficient reason for declining to share it.

Show/Hide Example 2

Show/Hide Example 3

Resources - Data Citation

Resources - Intellectual Property

Resources - Ethics/Legal


Explain, in as much detail as possible, how and when your data will be made available to people outside your research group. Keep in mind the potential users of the data as well as any norms for data sharing that exist within their communities. For instance, if you are generating data that is of potential interest to researchers who are heavy users of a disciplinary data repository then it is probably not sufficient to make your data available by email request to the PI. On the other hand, if that is the standard method of data sharing in the relevant user communities then it may be any acceptable solution.

In regard to data sharing, we strongly encourage you to consult with ORSP and the Office of Technology Transfer if you have any special licensing requirements or intellectual property concerns. The Library’s Copyright Office is also available for consultations regarding the licensing of software and research data.

NSF Guidance

"The DMP should describe data formats, media, and dissemination approaches that will be used to make data and metadata available to others. Policies for public access and sharing should be described, including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements. Research centers and major partnerships with industry or other user communities must also address how data are to be shared and managed with partners, center members, and other major stakeholders. "

Data Management for NSF SBE Directorate Proposals and Awards, p. 3.

Questions to Consider

  • Who is likely to be interested in your data (e.g. other researchers in your field, researchers in other fields, the general public)? For how long after the conclusion of the project are your data likely to be of interest to these people?
  • How and when will you make the data available? Describe resources needed to do this, such as equipment, software and staff. 
  • Think about potential uses for your data and what conditions, if any, you will attach to those uses:
    • Will you permit the re-use of your data?
    • Will you permit the re-distribution of your data?
    • Will you permit the creation and publication of derivatives based on your data?
    • Will you permit others to use the data for commercial purposes?
  • For how long will the PI(s) retain the right to use the data before opening it up for wider use? Are there other stakeholders (such as academic or corporate partners) who need to be consulted before the data are made available? Explain the reasons for any embargo period.
  • What steps would another researcher need to go through to obtain access to your data? Will any restrictions be placed on the data? For example, will users be required to sign an agreement before using the data? If so, explain the nature of the agreement (and link to the full agreement if possible).
  • Are there any potential proprietary, security, ethical or privacy issues that might require limitations on which of the data to be generated can be shared (for example, human subject data, geolocations of sensitive ecological or cultural resources)? If so, how will these issues be addressed?
  • If applicable, what procedures will be followed in order to comply with IRB obligations? Be as specific as possible.
  • Do you plan on publishing findings that rely on your data? If so, do you anticipate any restrictions on data sharing as a result of publisher policies?