Planning is very important! Not only are research funders requiring data management plans as part of funding proposals, but a well considered data management plan can ensure that all members of your research team handle data appropriately. Think of the entire research life cycle as you create your data plan. What are the sources of your data? Are there restrictions on how you can use the data? Are you creating your own data and do you need to impose restrictions on its use, distribution or storage? What sort of access do you want to provide to the data and how long do you need to preserve the data? These are just a few of the questions to think about as you develop your data plan. Read below for best practices and guidelines as you develop your Data Management Plan.
Roles & Responsibilities: Often a DMP will require an accounting of who will accept responsibility for tasks associated with data management. DataONE offers best practices in assigning roles and responsbilities.
Expected Data: Be able to describe (roughly) how much data your project will generate, at what rate, and if it will be generated as multiple data sets. Note also how much of that data will be retained and why.
Metadata and Standards: Think about how you will describe the data in such a way that you and others will find meaningful. Often there are industry or community standards that should be used to ensure that your data can work with other data and are accessible by other researchers.
Formats: Describe the file formats of your data. Whenever possible, data should be stored in stable, non-proprietary formats, preferably those based on open and published standards.
Retention: Think about how long you want your data to be available. Often there is a minimum requirement by the funding agency of 3, 5, or more years.
Dissemination: Explain if, how, and when your data will be available. You may be able to offer the data from a repository like Deep Blue Data, or you may need to require a request to the project PI.
Preservation: A key part of any DMP is describing how you will preserve your data. It is good to plan on several preservation and back-up options. When putting your data in a repository, note their commitment to long-term preservation and curation of the data.
Data Management Plan Resources listed above will provide you with more detailed descriptions of and resources for the above topics.