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Research Data Management at TRU

Get Started with your Data Management Plan!

If you are getting started with Research Data Management (RDM), this guide has the resources you need about data management best practices and how to get started with data management plans (DMPs).

The DMP Assistant is a great tool to get started with writing you DMP. Its template will help you scaffold and plan how you will organize, manage, and share your data.

About DMPs

A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a document that outlines what you will do with your data. It is separate from the data itself, and it is a living document. A DMP details:

  • Data collection: how and what will be collected
  • Documentation and metadata: how the data will be described
  • Storage and backup: how the data will be stored
  • Preservation: how the data will be preserved long term
  • Sharing and reuse: how and if the data will be shared
  • Responsibilities and resources: who will have access to the data
  • Ethics and legal compliance: information about sensitive data

The Portage DMP Assistant tool has guiding questions for each of these categories to help your DMP be strong.

A Data Management Plan is not just another required document designed to take time away from the research itself! A good DMP:

  • Prevents the loss of data
  • Allows you to track your data and research project efficiently and effectively
  • Supports having multiple people working on a dataset consistently
  • Increases reproducibility of your data, and hopefully your future citations

This video shows a case of poor research data management to illustrate why having and following a good DMP is important:

Good Data Management Practices

When you're getting started with your DMP, think about:

  • How will everyone on my team access the data while working on the project?
  • How will you keep your data well-labelled and well-organized?
  • Who is responsible for the data?
  • What are your storage requirements for the data?
  • Are you going to share your data after the project is completed?
  • Does your data need to be anonymized before sharing?

This is the basic information that your DMP will cover.

The FAIR Guiding Principles for Scientific Data Management and Stewardship provide guidelines to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. Making your data FAIR will increase your data's reproducibility.

  • Findable: metadata and data should be easy to find for both humans and computers
  • Accessible: once the data is found, a user should easily know how it can be accessed
  • Interoperable: the data should be able to be integrated with other data
  • Reusable: metadata and data should be well-described so they can be replicated and combined in different settings

Source: GoFAIR (n.d.). FAIR Principles.

It seems simple, but having a set structure for how you name and organize your files can save you a great deal of time and energy down the road. There's not one right way to do this, but here are some suggestions:

  • Name files so they can be recognized outside of their containing folder
    • Example: if you name something just 2021 bill because it's in a folder named Phone bills by year, and you move it to a different folder, you will not know what the file is without opening it. Instead, consider 2021 Bell Mobility Bill
  • Have a consistent naming structure--if you name files and folders with different practices, over time your folders will get very confusing
  • Name files with their version number, and have an archive folder for older versions
    • Example: 2022-03 ENGL 1100 Lesson Plan v.2 is in the lesson plan folder, with 2022-03 ENGL 1100 Lesson Plan v.1 in the archive folder
  • Have a readme file with all of your naming conventions and practices that is easily accessible. This is especially important if more than one person will be naming files, but it's useful when it is just you as well!

Get Help with RDM

Questions? Need help with your DMP or storage? Have a suggestion for this guide? Please get in touch!

Creative Commons License
Unless stated otherwise, this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.