Data management planning
Section 2 of 7
Image: Road, Caleb George, Unsplash, Public Domain
In order to successfully meet the EPSRC expectations on research data, you need to have done a certain amount of planning and preparation before you start collecting your data. This is best achieved through a data management plan, or DMP. You need to complete a brief outline DMP as part of your EPSRC grant application, and the University has developed an online tool to help you do this. Data management costs should be considered in your outline DMP, as EPSRC will fund any directly incurred data management costs (including data storage costs), provided that these are incurred before the end date of the grant. The Research Data Service has produced a guide to costing research data management which may help you to anticipate where these costs may be incurred.
Whilst you do not need to submit a full DMP with your EPSRC grant application, you are expected to have one as described in their principles on research data.
A full DMP should cover:
- what data you plan to collect or create, including software/code
- how you plan to organise, document and store it
- any ethical or legal issues around the data and any security measures that need to be taken to protect it
- how you plan to preserve and share it in the long term
- who will have responsibility for carrying out these tasks and what resources will be required
EPSRC considers ‘research data’ to include both digital data and physical products such as samples. The implications of preserving physical samples are discussed later on in this tutorial. Digital data may include things like images, video, and spreadsheets, as well as software. Therefore, if you plan to write code or a script for an analysis package such as MATLAB or R, you should think about how this will be documented so that others can understand it, and how it will be preserved in the long term.
There are a number of tools available to help you create a full DMP: the Research Data Service recommends DMPOnline. This is an online tool which offers templates for creating DMPs for all major UK funding bodies, including EPSRC. If you need help completing your DMP, or would like feedback on it, please contact the Research Data Service. More detailed guides on completing data management plans are available on the Research Data Service website.
Critically, if you do not complete a DMP you may find it challenging to meet the remaining EPSRC expectations on data management.
- A data management plan should include information on the amount and types of data to be collected, and any resources required, in as much detail as is known at the time. Very specific information on file naming and folder organisation is not required. You should think about it before data collection begins, however, and for very large or complex projects you may wish to have a formal policy to standardise this.