Data Management Plan (DMP)

Creating a Data Management Plan (DMP) for any research project is considered good scientific practice and increasingly mandated by research stakeholders. (Early) Planning for Research Data Management (RDM) can save a lot of time, money and problems in the long run and will therefore increase scientific integrity and transparency. The content of a DMP covers core topics such as data description, documentation, metadata & standards, data storage & security, sharing & reuse, legal & ethical issues as well as responsibilities & costs related to research data management. read more

Duration:  5:23  mins

Content: In this knowledge clip we have a look at Data Management Plans. Why should you plan for data management and what is the typical content of a DMP? And when should you submit it?

Ghent University Data Stewards (2020). Knowledge clip: Data Management Plans (DMPs). Available at:

License: CC BY 4.0

A data management plan or DMP is a document that outlines how research data will be handled during and after a research project. Creating a DMP is considered good practice for any research project that will use or generate data. Decisions made early on affect what you can do later, so good and timely planning can save you a lot of time and problems in the longer run. It also helps you consider the necessary resources and costs for data management - so you can budget for these and even include them in your grant applications. Planning can also help you to increase the FAIRness of your data and to make data FAIR by design. Data management plans are increasingly required by research institutions and funding agencies. These stakeholders recognize the intrinsic value of data and intend to increase scientific integrity and transparency and the accessibility and reuse of data collected by publicly funded research.

So what should be included in a data management plan?

If you are writing a DMP for your institution or funder it is important to check if a specific template is available or even required. Although DMP templates might slightly vary from organization to organization they usually cover the following topics: a summary or description of the data. You will need to indicate whether you will generate new data or use existing data sets and provide some basic characteristics about them - such as their origin, their type, their format and estimated size.

Metadata and documentation: what information will be provided to make data understandable and findable? And will this be provided following agreed standards?

Other DMP questions will deal with data storage and security: where will the data be stored? And how will you ensure that data is protected against risks? For example data loss due to human errors, computer failures or malicious attacks. And how to make sure that it cannot be accessed, deleted or modified by unauthorized persons? What about preservation? What data will be preserved after the end of the project? For how long and where?

Sharing and Reuse: what data can and will be shared? With whom and under which access and reuse conditions or licenses? Where and when will data be made available?

Another content block involves the possible legal or ethical issues related to your project's data. For example if you work with personal or otherwise confidential data, or any other situation where ethical approval is needed. Or if you work with third party data or you are planning to seek patent protection for your research results. These are all issues that will affect how you should collect, store and process your data and whether you can share them or not and under which conditions.

Responsibility should also be addressed: who bears the overall responsibility for implementing and regularly updating the dmp? Who is responsible for each of the different data management activities including documenting, storage and backups, preserving and sharing data?

And finally what about costs and resources? Are there any costs related to the implementation of the dmp? Will you need additional resources to cover these costs?

So that's for the content of a DMP but when are you supposed to submit a DMP? Well, it depends on the specific requirements of your institution or research funder. Usually, the life cycle of a data management plan looks like this: the proposal stage: this is where the various requirements diverge most. Your institution or funder might not have any specific requirements with regards to data management. Another possibility is that the proposal needs to address some RDM questions or include a light version of a DMP. In other cases, a preliminary but full version of the DMP might be required. When your project is approved. A first version of the DMP will usually be required shortly after - often no later than six months after the start date - but things can change over the course of the project. Or maybe certain things were not known at the beginning - that is why you are supposed to keep your DMP up to date throughout the course of the project. In some cases updated versions might be a deliverable with a specific deadline. At the end of the project it is likely that a final version of the DMP is requested - this should reflect the final decisions and approaches taken. For some funders the final DMP might be part of the project's final evaluation.

As we've mentioned, many institutions or research funders will provide a DMP template with a series of RDM related questions. However, there is a range of tools that can help you with the process of creating a data management plan. These tools will incorporate these templates. They will also provide you with some tips as you go along and allow you to export your final DMP in a format ready for submission. So before you start - check whether your institution provides a DMP tool. For example researchers from Ghent university and other belgian institutions can use In our website you can find more information about data management plans and a video tutorial about Why don't you have a look?


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Further Information

  • Checklist for a Data Management Plan provided by DCC (Digital Curation Centre)

The checklist provides guidance and questions to consider when creating a DMP

  • Checklist for a Data Management Plan provided by SND (Swedish National Data Service)

This checklist guides you with questions trough the DMP core topics

  • Data Management Planning Themes provided by DCC & UC3

This is a consolidated set of data management planning themes & guidance

  • Data management general guidance provided by DMPTool

This guide provides background information and help on all DMP core topics

  • DMPonline Tool for creating a DMP provided by DCC

DMPonline helps you to create, review, and share data management plans that meet institutional and funder requirements. It is provided by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

  • RDMO Tool for creating a DMP (Research Data Management Organizer)

The Research Data Management Organiser (RDMO) enables institutions as well as researchers to plan and carry out their management of research data. RDMO can assemble all relevant planning information and data management tasks across the whole life cycle of the research data.

  • Data Steward Wizard

The Data Stewardship Wizard will effortlessly guide you through the creation of your data management plan by e.g. giving you hints about good data management practice, checking the FAIRness of your plan, or asking and following only questions relevant to your project

  • Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management – Extended Edition

Originally released in 2019, and following its successful uptake by many organisations, the extended edition features a brand-new rubric to facilitate the evaluation of a data management plan (DMP). The guide also presents core requirements for DMPs, criteria for the selection of trustworthy repositories, and guidance for researchers to comply with organisational requirements.

  • FAIR Data Austria Webinar “Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Research Data Management”

have a look at the slides ( and/or video (, FWF DMP see minutes 36:18-55:00) from the Webinar “Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Research Data Management” to inform about DMPs in general and FWF requirements in particular. The Webinar is part of the Webinar Series “Research Data Management in Austria” ( aimed at researchers and/or research support staff and serves to promote networking and exchange on the topic of research data management – like writing a data management plan and related topics


FAIR Data Austria (2021). “Data Management Plan (DMP)“. In: Research Data Management Open Educational Resources Collection. (

License: CC BY 4.0 unless otherwise stated.