What the Heck is a Data Management Plan?

Dr. Wood has been writing an NSF (National Science Foundation) grant to get funding for a new part of our project. It was due today and I was going through everything he had written and submitting it all with him. We had it all submitted, then clicked the check feature to make sure he had it all. A notice came up saying something along the lines of “You haven’t yet submitted a Data Management Plan.” Dr. Wood looked at me and said, “What’s a data management plan?”

I should mention at this point that he had to teach a class in less than ten minutes, and it needed to be submitted to the administration building for approval before it was finally submitted to the NSF.

He dug through and found the requirements for the DMP, and it turns out that it’s a new requirement that has only been in place since January. He looked at me and said, “Can you write this?”


I didn’t even know what the heck a DMP was much less how to write it. But I said, “Sure” with a look of terror on my face.

Sheer terror. I had two hours to produce this document and not only did I now know how to write it, but I was convinced that I wasn’t qualified to write it (well, this is still true).

I went back to my office and Googled “What is a Data Management Plan?” Google totally saved my bacon today. I found a template that listed a number of things that should be included in a DMP, and wrote one in an hour and a half. When Dr. Wood’s class was done, I showed it to him, we made some minor edits, and sent it to the administration building. He told me I had done an excellent job on it.



5 thoughts on “What the Heck is a Data Management Plan?

  1. Pingback: Editing | The Hun Bun

  2. My first guess for a Data Management plan would have to do with how you plan on keeping your research subject’s data secure and non-stealable (totally a word >.>) It sounds like one of the IRB requirements ^^;;

    But that’s totally a guess.

    • Yeah, that’s part of it if you’re testing people. It’s also how you plan on protecting your data from corruption/loss (e.g., using firewalls, backing up), how you plan on storing it long term, what kind of data you have, if it is digital what types of files they are, etc. etc. In the end it was a kind of useless document that said in 2 pages what I could have summed up in a short paragraph, but it made me look good. ^_~ I just felt legit writing part of a Real Life grant.

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