Data Management Planning

Even if you are not creating a DMP as part of a grant proposal, it is still helpful to maintain some kind of document that outlines how data should be managed over the course of a project. Here is a list of things to think about.

Plan Considerations
Element Questions to ask yourself
Collection What data do you plan to collect/acquire?
Documentation What information will be needed to ensure your data can be read, interpreted, or used in the future?
Compliance How will you handle any ethical and/or legal issues related to your data?
Storage How will you store and manage access to your data?
Preservation What data should data be retained, archived, or preserved for the long term?
Sharing How will you share your data? Are there restrictions on what you can share?
Responsibilities Who is responsible for ensuring that the data is well managed? What resources will you/they require?

Your data management plan may be part of a broader set of standard operating procedures or it may stand alone. While it is important to create such a document, it is equally important to ensure its contents reflect the current state of the project, and that updates are communicated to all relevant project members.


Download a checklist from Open Science Framework

Getting Organized

Approaching electronic data storage with ease of searching in mind is key. A project-oriented naming convention for the folder structure is a great place to begin. Sub-folder naming should reflect the functional grouping of the folder contents and be repeatable across projects. Ensuring all projects are easily recognizable and searchable through the use of descriptive folder and file names is highly recommended.

Ideally, folder and file names should include information you need to easily locate a file. If you are maintaining different versions of the same file, you should consider documenting what the difference is between the versions. The file name itself should include the version number. Whatever convention you end up using, make sure your file names are unique, descriptive, and meaningful.

It is not advisable to include spaces or special characters in your file names. These might cause problems for you or other scholars when the files are used on different computer operating systems or analytical software.

The principles of file naming and organization also apply to data files. In a spreadsheet, for example, using descriptive column names without spaces is a best practice.