Introduction to data management

Why manage data?  |  About data management plans  |  Creating a data management plan  |  Sample data management plans  |  NSF data management plan FAQs  |  NIH data plans

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Why manage data?

“Properly caring for your research data is essential, not only as a mechanism to facilitate your own research, but also because thoughtful and planned data management, as well as data archiving, is increasingly required by research institutions, funding agencies, and academic publishers.”
— (Data Management [Georgia Tech Library] 2015)


  • To increase research efficiency—Managing your research data saves you time by ensuring that you and others in your collaboration will be able to find, understand, and use the data. It also helps track the course of their own progress.
  • Wider exposure—Sharing your research data enables wider dissemination of your work.
  • More citations—Articles may be cited more often if the data underlying the article are freely accessible.
  • Funding Agency Requirements—Many funding agencies require a data management plan and archiving research data in a repository for long-term preservation and access before awarding the funding.
  • Competitive proposals—If the proposal demonstrates that you are managing, preserving, and sharing your data it becomes more competitive. • Research integrity and validation of research – Making your data available to others ensures that your research is truly reproducible.
  • Share and reuse—When you manage your data throughout the life of your research, the data can be more readily shared and reused by others.
  • Promote new discoveries—Sharing your data with other researchers can lead to new and unanticipated discoveries and provide research material for those with little or no funding.
  • Support Open Access—By sharing your data you are supporting Open Access and helping to foster the creation of new knowledge, by allowing others to freely use and build upon your work.

About data management plans

i. What is a data management plan (DMP)?

A data management plan is a document explaining the data you will collect during your project and summarizing how you will handle the data throughout your project duration, as well as after the project is completed.

ii. Why do we need a DMP?

Federal agencies are currently implementing requirements from the Office of Science and Technology Policy that funded researchers curate and share their data. Many other grant-funding agencies and some publishers are following suit. A data management plan is already a required element in many proposals, and provides the framework for sharing and managing the data for the future.

iii. What is included in a DMP?

In general, most federal agencies require a data management plan to be included as part of research proposals in response to an agency's funding announcement. While each agency is unique in its requirements, in most instances a document of no more than two pages is expected to describe how data will be generated through the course of the proposed research, the data dissemination, and sharing of the results. The following outlines information from the National Science Foundation's grant proposal guide on what may be included in the data management section of a proposal (typical of many agency requirements).

  • The types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project
  • The standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies)
  • Policies for access and sharing, including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements
  • Policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives
  • Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them

Creating a data management plan

i. DMP Tool

The Data Management Plan Tool (DMPTool) is an online tool for creating, reviewing, and sharing data management plans. The DMPTool offers templates and guided assistance for creating data management plans for many of the sponsors (NSF, NIH, and others) sponsored project applications. The DMPTool is combined effort by many institutions and assists in meeting the requirement of including a data management plan in applications.

Getting Started

  1. Go to
  2. Click the “Log In” button on the top right corner of the screen
  3. From the dropdown, scroll and select “University of Nevada, Reno”
  4. Click “Next”
  5. Log in with your UNR NetID, and you will be taken to your DMP Dashboard where you can:
    1. Create New DMPs
    2. Review DMPs
    3. Access DMP Templates
    4. Download Public and University DMPs

Accessing UNR DMP examples in DMPTool

  1. “Log In” to the site using your UNR NetID and password
  2. Click the “Public DMPs” tab in the green bar at the top of the page
  3. Scroll down and you will see a list of sample the University's DMPs in the “INSTITUTIONAL DMPS” table (alternatively, you can use the search box or A-Z links to find the University's example DMPs)
  4. Once you have selected a DMP, click that DMP’s PDF icon to download
  5. From the downloaded PDF, select the text you wish to save and right click (or Ctrl+c) to copy
  6. Paste as unformatted text into a Word document
  7. Edit example text to fulfill the requirements of the application and your project using the “Create New DMP” in the DMPTool

The detailed instructions for using the DMPTool can be found at the Quick Start Guide.

More resources

ii. Data management plan checklist

iii. Where you can get more help

If you need help figuring out what your requirements are or how to comply with the data management parameters, contact:

The University Information Technology Department also provides resources for researchers.

Comments or questions about where to go next? Contact us!

Sample data management plan