Skip to main content

Research Data Management for Researchers: RDM 1: Research Data Planning

Research Data Planning

If you are starting a new research project, you will need to consider how you will manage your research data. You should make plans for your data before you start to collect it. Many funders are now asking you to do this as part of their application process.

Plan for successful research data management

Planning at an early stage can help you make the right decisions about collecting, storing and sharing your data. Planning can also help you reduce the risk of data loss, inappropriate disclosure and failure to comply with funder open access requirements. Before you make your application, you will be required to evaluate:

  • what data will be collected (e.g., data type, format, volume)
  • how metadata and documentation will be generated, kept and disseminated
  • how the data will be stored securely during the lifetime of the project
  • what ethical and legal restrictions apply to the data, e.g., confidentiality, IPR.
  • how it will be preserved and shared after the project has ended.

Make sure you know about your funder's expectations, before you prepare your application.

Data Management Plans (DMP)

The decisions resulting from these considerations will all affect what can be done with your data in the future. Data planning is best done by writing a Data Management Plan.

The Plymouth University RDM Policy states that researchers are responsible for including:

research data management plans or protocols that explicitly address data capture, management, integrity, confidentiality, retention, sharing and publication for all new research proposals.

You will only need to create one DMP, and that will satisfy both the requirements of your funder and the University.

The DCC has various Data Management Plans resources including guides and examples. DMPonline offers DMP templates for RCUK funded researchers.

Another useful and easy to use tool is a Data Management Planning checklist. Simpler than a detailed Data Management Plan, a checklist can help you keep track of requirements and also act as the first step in producing a more involved DMP. A sample checklist may look like this:

RDM Resources

FAQs: Research Data Planning

The same principles apply to physical and digital data. At proposal stage, you should include the costs of managing physical data in your research funding application and data management plan. We recommend you apply for funding to digitise physical data, so it can be deposited in the University repository or a suitable subject repository - see RDM Guide 3 (Research data deposit). The data digitised for archiving purposes should underpin existing research, be relevant to others and be suitable for reuse. You should always ensure that your physical data is kept in a manner that is compliant with legal obligations, requirements of funding bodies, data protection and information security policies, and project-specific protocols approved under the University's Research Ethics Policy - see RDM Guide 2 (Research data storage) for more information.