Planning data management
Research data management should begin before the start of any data collection. Even when using secondary data for your research project (for example, from a large longitudinal population study), it is useful to plan how you will manage the data and address any associated issues before you access or analyse the data.
Data management plans
A first step is to create a data management plan (DMP). These are structured documents that outline how you will manage any data collected or used in the research project.
Many research funding organisations require that applications for funding include a Data Management Plan, particularly for projects that will be collecting primary data.
A DMP typically includes:
- The type of study and type of data that will be collected
- The data collection methods and how data quality will be maintained
- How the data will be stored, managed, backed-up, and preserved
- How the data and metadata will be documented and any standards that will be used
- How the data will be kept secure and outlines of any known risks to data security
- Details about ethical and legal compliance and issues with data sharing
- If and how the data will be shared, how access to the data will be governed, and the format of the final dataset
- Who will be responsible for each stage of the project
Universities and institutions often have information and guidance on writing data management plans. Some also offer bespoke services where your plan can be reviewed ahead of any grant submissions.