Why Do I Need a Data Management Plan?
Increasingly, the answer to this question is, “Because the agency that funds my research requires one.” Several grant-making agencies, including the National Science Foundation, now require that researchers have a plan for preserving data generated in the course of their research and sharing that data with other scholars. Some journals also require that the data used in published articles be made available to others who want to try to replicate or extend the results.
However, even if you are not required to have a data management plan or to preserve and share your research data, we hope that you will consider doing so.
“Data sharing strengthens our collective capacity to meet scientific standards of openness by providing opportunities for further analysis, replication, verification and refinement of research findings…. In addition, the greater availability of research data will contribute to improved training for graduate and undergraduate students, and make possible significant economies of scale through the secondary analysis of extant data. Finally, researchers have a special obligation to scientific openness and accountability when the research is publicly funded.”
- Data Archiving Policy, National Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic and Sciences
Data Management Services Offered by the Libraries
If you are writing a grant that requires a data management plan, we encourage you to consult with a librarian early in the process. We can help you:
- Select appropriate file formats so that your data files will still be readable in the future.
- Select appropriate metadata schemas and describe your data so that other researchers will be able to find it.
- Document your data so that other researchers will be able to interpret it.
- Find repositories to preserve and disseminate your data, and submit your data to those repositories. Repository options include:
- The Grinnell College Libraries Dataverse, a college data repository that is part of a globally searchable data network. Dataverse is most appropriate for numeric data.
- The Liberal Arts Scholarly Repository (LASR), a collaborative institutional repository shared by Grinnell and several other liberal arts colleges. LASR can accept all kinds of data, but is most appropriate for textual materials such as research reports.
- A repository specific to your discipline.
Other Data Management Resources
Managing and Sharing Data: A Best Practice Guide for Researchers, from the UK Data Archive
Data Management Guidelines, from the California Digital Library