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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:

  • Ensures data remains useful and is stored safely for the long term
  • Avoids duplication
  • Provides guidelines and standards for all project members to work to
  • Allows continuity if project members leave or new researchers join
  • Ability to anticipate issues and identify strategies to avoid problems such as data loss, breaches
  • Provides documentation of compliance with institutional, funder and publisher data policies, and ethics approval requirements
  • Saves time and money in the long term

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:

  • How will the data support the research question?
  • What secondary sources of data have been evaluated? Ensure the data you plan to collect has not already been funded and published
  • What types and volume of data will be created? Consider open file formats where possible
  • How will the required data storage be provisioned?
  • How will the data be organised? Think about file naming conventions, controlled vocabularies
  • What contextual information is needed to make the data understandable? Do you need to record methodologies, equipment settings or abbreviations used?
  • How will you create or capture this metadata and documentation?
  • What standards will you use, for example for quality assurance procedures and data interoperability?
  • What are the Intellectual Property (IP) Rights of existing data used and the data generated? Consider the position for collaborative research or where various sources of data are combined
  • Are there any exceptional IP arrangements such as embargoes, patents or commercial partnership agreements?
  • What is your approach to informed consent, confidentiality and anonymisation? How will you safeguard the privacy of research participants? What methods will you use to restrict access to your sensitive data? Will you encrypt hardware when working off campus?
  • How and when will the data be accessed by research collaborators?
  • How will the data be made discoverable and citable? Will you publish supplementary information alongside articles? Will you use a data repository?
  • What are possible future uses of the data?
  • Are there any reasons why you would not be able to share some of your data? Is the data covered by the Data Protection Act, licence restrictions or ethical requirements?

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.

  • What data needs to be kept after the project has finished? Will you retain all of the raw data or is a processed version more suitable to preserve?
  • Which data has long term value and could be reused?
  • How will you prepare your data for long-term preservation? Will you deposit the data in a specialist data repository?

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.

Online tools and templates

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.

Documents and checklists

Example DMPs

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.

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 ClarificationsTemplate 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

Online guidance
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:

  • Respect the autonomy of human research subjects
  • Do no harm to researchers or human research subjects
  • Act justly towards those who contribute to your research

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:

  • store and protect data securely
  • reduce burden of over-researched, vulnerable groups
  • make best use of hard-to-obtain data (e.g. elites, socially excluded)
  • extend voices of participants
  • provide greater research transparency
  • enable fullest ethical use of rich data

Research data about people, including sensitive data, can be shared ethically and legally if the following strategies are used:

  • informed consent for data uses such as re-use, sharing and archiving
  • protecting identities e.g. using anonymisation
  • controlling access to data e.g. non-disclosure agreements
  • securely storing sensitive or confidential data

Do not assume all research data should be destroyed after a certain time period.

Ethical Approval at Salford


General guidance

Quick guide flowchart

Research Ethics Checklist Form to be completed as part of the Learning Agreement

Staff and PGRs

General guidance

Codes of Ethics from professional bodies and research councils

NHS Research Ethics

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:

External resources

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

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

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

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:

  • Copyright: protects literary works, art, films, sound recordings and software
  • Patents: protects inventions e.g. tools, machines
  • Trademark: protects logos, product names
  • Design rights: protects shapes of objects

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:

  • registering patents to protect inventions which are then commercialised by industry partners;
  • dissemination via publication (copyright).

Ownership of IP

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