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About data management plans (DMPs)

A data management plan (DMP) is a written document that describes the data you expect to acquire or generate during the course of a research project, how you will manage, describe, analyze, and store those data, and what mechanisms you will use at the end of your project to share and preserve your data.  You may have already considered some or all of these issues with regard to your research project, but writing them down helps you formalize the process, identify weaknesses in your plan, and provide you with a record of what you intend to do. Data management is best addressed in the early stages of a research project, but it is never too late to develop a data management plan.


Most funding agencies require a DMP at submission. If you are submitting to a funder that has this requirement, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) please explore the links below for guidance.

Creating a data management plan

A DMP is a living document. Research is all about discovery, and the process of doing research sometimes requires you to shift gears and revise your intended path. Your DMP is a living document that you may need to alter as the course of your research changes. Remember that any time your research plans change, you should review your DMP to make sure that it still meets your needs.

The National Science Foundation

Proposals must include a document of no more than two pages uploaded under "Data Management Plan" in the supplementary documentation section of FastLane. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results (see Chapter XI.D.4), and may include:

  1. the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;
  2. 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);
  3. policies for access and sharing including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;
  4. policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and
  5. plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

Data management requirements and plans specific to the Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF unit, relevant to a proposal are available.  If guidance specific to the program is not available, then the requirements established in this section apply.

The National Institutes of Health

NIH has drafted a new Policy for Data Management and Sharing that reinforces NIH's commitment to making the results and outputs of the research that it funds and conducts available to the public.

The Policy requires:

  • Submission of a Data Management and Sharing Plan outlining how scientific data will be managed and shared, taking into account any potential restrictions or limitation.
  • Compliance with the NIH ICO-approved Plan, prospectively describing effective management and timely sharing of scientific data (as appropriate) and accompanying meta data resulting from NIH-funded or conducted research.

Additional Resources and Examples/Templates

  • DMPTool
    • When creating your data management plan, we recommend using DMPTool.  It is a free service which will guide you through including the required elements in a data management plan, while also providing detail for different granting agencies.
    • NKU is a DMPTool-affiliated institution so if you are a first-time user, click on "Your Institution" under Option 1 when you sign in.  Look up NKU by typing Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and then select "Go".  From there you can create your own personal account. 
    • After you have created an account, the next time you sign in, you will utilize Option 1, search for NKU, select "Go" and then Sign in!
  • DMPTool Public Plans
  • University of Delaware Example