Effective data management starts when research is being designed. Planning should consider how data will be managed both during and after the research. This involves thinking critically about how data can be shared, what might limit or prohibit data sharing, and whether any steps can be taken to remove such limitations.
Benefits of planning data management:
It is recommended that every research project, whether funded or non-funded, produces a data management plan (DMP) before starting the project.
A DMP is a document that describes how research data will be collected, organised, stored, secured, backed-up, preserved, and where applicable, shared.
A DMP should be concise and appropriate to the nature of the research, with more detailed plans for larger projects. Decisions about data management should be justified and the DMP should be implemented once the project begins.
Many funders have specific DMP guidelines which you need to be aware of and the diversity of research means there is no single answer for every DMP. The following topics are typically covered:
If newly generated data cannot be shared, adequate justification should be given because funders require all strategies to enable data sharing to have been considered, and if not they may impose sanctions.
Guidance is available on how to choose a data repository
In some instances, direct costs to manage research data can be requested as part of a grant application. Other funders expect the university to meet the costs from overheads, if these can be recovered as part of the grant. Please check with the Research & Enterprise Development Team if you are unsure about the rules for a particular funder/scheme. The UK Data Archive have developed a useful Costing Tool for data management in the social sciences.
There are a variety of tools, templates and checklists available to help write a DMP.
DMPonline provides templates and embedded guidance for writing data management plans for all major UK funding bodies, some international funders, as well as a generic template. You can save plans and return to them, and also collaborate on them with partners. A short screencast is available on the homepage which demonstrates how to use the tool. Please note that registration is required, but you can link it to your Salford network username/password.
DMPTool is similar to DMPonline, but includes templates and guidance based on the major US funding bodies.
A summary of the UK funder expectations for data management plans, including links to their templates are available here.
The Digital Curation Centre maintains a list of example data management plans
Below are a few examples to download:
Many research funders have data policies which specify the research data management practice expected from grant holders. In many cases submission of a data management plan (DMP) is part of the grant application process.
Tip: Always use the templates or guidance provided by the funder. Be aware that some funders provide multiple templates, requiring more detailed DMPs to be submitted after a project has been funded.
Links to the funder data policies and templates are in the table below.
|Funder Data Policy||Plan requirement||Submit with grant application?||Length (A4 pages)||Guidance||Template/Example|
|AHRC||Technical plan||Yes||Max. 4||Online guidance||Sample plan from University of Bristol, DCC annotated sample plan|
|BBSRC||Data management plan||Yes||Max. 1||FAQs||Template available in DMPonline|
|CRUK||Data sharing plan||Yes||No limit specified||FAQs
|Template available in DMPonline|
|EPSRC||Data management plan||Not peer reviewed as part of application but must exist locally for all data||No limit specified||Clarifications||Template available in DMPonline|
|ESRC||Data management and sharing plan||Yes||No limit specified||Online guidance||Template and Example|
|EU Horizon 2020||Data management plan||A plan is required for projects participating in the Open Research Data Pilot. Other projects are invited to submit a plan if relevant for their planned research||No limit specified||Online guidance and Factsheet||Template in Annex 1 of pdf|
|Innovate UK||No data policy or guidance available|
|Kidscan||No data policy or guidance available|
|MRC||Data management plan||Yes||Max. 3||Online guidance||Template|
|NERC||Outline data management plan for proposal stage, and a full DMP if grant awarded||Yes||Max. 1||Online guidance||Template|
|NIH||Data sharing plan||Yes for scientists submitting grant, cooperative, or contract applications||No limit specified||FAQs |
|NIHR||A statement on how underlying research materials can be accessed||Yes||No limit specified||Not available||Not available|
|STFC||Data management plan||Yes||Max. 2||Online guidance||Template available in DMPonline|
|Wellcome Trust||Data management and sharing plan||Yes – for large scale projects and proposals involving the generation of datasets that have clear scope for wider research use and hold significant long-term value||No limit specified||Online guidance |
Q & A
|Example from LSHTM
Template available in DMPonline
The University requires research to be consistent with basic ethical principles, including:
It is important in the planning stages of a project to ensure that consent is obtained from participants for future storage, re-use and sharing of their data and/or tissues with third parties as it can be difficult to obtain consent retrospectively. Many funders now require data to be made openly available where possible.
Ethical arguments for sharing research data include:
Research data about people, including sensitive data, can be shared ethically and legally if the following strategies are used:
Do not assume all research data should be destroyed after a certain time period.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) aims to maximise the value of human tissue samples and suggests that researchers establish a Research Tissue Bank or Research Database for the purposes of sharing. For information on managing access to, and transfer of, data or tissue samples, please visit the following MRC tool kits:
Quick guide flowchart
Research Ethics Checklist Form to be completed as part of the Learning Agreement
Codes of Ethics from professional bodies and research councils
If you are intending to carry out research projects in the NHS, you must also obtain NHS research ethics approval. The normal procedure is to apply for School Ethics approval before proceeding to NHS Research Ethics approval (Details of how to apply for NHS ethics approval can be found at the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS).
The Health Research Authority (HRA) provides two linked, online decision tools to assist you in determining whether your project is classified as research and whether it requires ethical review by a NHS REC. These tools are available at:
Creating a data management plan will enhance your research planning and also help you to navigate the information governance requirements listed below.
The Data Protection Act 1998 regulates the holding and processing of personal data that is information relating to living individuals of any age. Its purpose is to ensure that personal information (personal data) is only processed in accordance with certain legitimate principles under specified conditions and to provide a set of rights to the individuals to whom the personal data relates.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into effect in January 2005 and it aims to promote transparency and accountability in the public sector. It enables people to access to information they would otherwise not have access to in public funded organisations.
Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) establish an access regime which allows people to request environmental information from public authorities and those bodies carrying out a public function.
For queries relating to Data Protection, Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations, please contact the Information Governance Team
Intellectual Property (IP) is defined as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce” and is protected in law to reward creativity.
There are four main types of IP:
During a research project a variety of intellectual property will be created, the management of which is vital to both the success of the project and possible ‘impact’ opportunities, for example:
The EPSRC typically expects the IP generated as a result of a funded project to be owned by the institute that created it. In the event of a project with a commercial collaborator, the position on IP may be different but in either case, the research contract will set out the rights and responsibilities associated with IP.
For advice and support on IP, please contact the University Intellectual Property Manager:
t: +44 (0) 161 295 2905