Using Data Management Plans will keep your research data safe and give your research more exposure

Photo of people sitting in the library with 'data' floating in the air


By Liz Snyder

Data Management Plans (DMPs) are becoming a more integrated part of the funding application process.  The U of G will soon be adopting its own Institutional Research Data Management strategy to ensure researchers are mitigating risk and increasing the visibility and impact of their research, one component of which is a DMP – and the Library is ready to help.

Creating a plan to manage data can be an important part of the research process. A DMP describes the methods, protocols and plans a researcher will use to manage, describe, store, analyze, preserve and share data acquired or generated during the course of a research project.

Amy Buckland, head of Research and Scholarship at the U of G Library says that can be a lot of data. 

“It could be outputs from experiments, interview notes, videos - anything a researcher has collected and will then base publications and research products off of,” she says.

Buckland says creating a sound, well-documented data management strategy helps improve project efficiencies and mitigates risks including loss, corruption, or unintentional disclosure of data.  It also helps ensure compliance with current and future funding agency policies, as well as other legal, ethical, and legislative requirements and helps researchers make decisions about long-term preservation and access to data when the project ends.

But, beyond the regulatory benefits of ensuring compliance, DMPs can also increase the reach of your research.

That’s one of the reasons the U of G is working on its own Institutional Research Data Management strategy.  John Livernois, Associate Vice-President (Research Services) says the strategy is being developed not only because of the Tri-Agency requirements, but because DMPs are an essential part of a research environment.  Good research data management increases opportunities for collaboration, promotes data sharing and reuse, decreases duplication of research and increases the visibility and impact of research.  It also makes things easier.

“DMPs help you conceptualize how you’re going to store data at the start of your research program, rather than trying to retrofit, even the naming of folders, after five years of research data collection,” he says.

Livernois also says DMPs aren’t an entirely new process.  Many funding agencies have been requiring them for several years, both in Canada and internationally. In a bid to support research data management requirements, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries launched the national Portage initiative.  It has developed a number of services, including a bilingual online tool called the DMP Assistant which guides users through a series of prompts and at the end, allows the plan to be downloaded in a variety of formats..

One of the key creators of this tool, Carol Perry, works at the U of G library. Which makes sense to Buckland, because the Library has always collected research products like journal articles and publications. 

 “Now that data is seen as its own research product, it fits for us to do it because we’re set up for this -- we know how to describe things, we know how to make things discoverable and we know how to make sure they are preserved,” says Buckland.

If researchers have questions about the DMP Assistant, or would prefer one-on-one help with creating a DMP, library staff are available to walk researchers through the process.

“The library is really well positioned to help.  We already have a repository.  We will handle all the deposits for you. We’ve got your back,” says Buckland.

The Research Support Fund supports DMP services for researchers.