Data paragraphs and data management plans
An increasing number of research funders require researchers to comply with their requirements for formal management and sharing of research data. The requirements vary by funders, but in general, project proposals are expected to include a data paragraph. And when the project is granted funders may ask you to provide a full data management plan (DMP) as an early deliverable (this is compulsory for all funded projects within programmes of the NWO and the EU Horicaon 2020).
Any research project will gain from the development of a data paragraph and a DMP to understand how to store and publish all the data it creates.
Links to the grant conditions specified by various research funders:
- Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020
- Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020 (See page 4 for requirements for proposals)
- Frequently Asked Questions about the extension of the Open Research Data Pilot of Horizon 2020
- ERC (European Research Council) rules related to Open Access and Research Data
- NWO Data Management Protocol
- NWO Guidelines for Data Management Section in project proposals
- ZonMw procedures for data management "Access to Data”
The National Coordination Point for Research Data Management compared the DMP requirements of five funding agencies (Horizon2020 (EU), NWO, KNAW, FP7Framework (EU) and ZonMw), and created a matrix of their differences and similarities (see figure). In short: their requirements do not differ very much and are all steering the researcher towards FAIR data management.
This description in your research proposal should include the type of data that will be collected or generated, the use of standards and the expected exploitation or availability of the data, as well as how and where the data will be stored during and after the project has been completed.
Guidelines for writing a data paragraph (NWO & Horizon2020):
Data management plan
A data management plan is a document that describes how the data will be generated or used within a given project, how they will be collected, managed, stored and made available during the study, and how they will be shared upon completion of the research project.
A data management plan is useful for purposes beyond merely satisfying the requirements of the research funder. It also helps the researcher to determine how the data can be managed efficiently and effectively. In addition, it can reduce the risk of data loss or other threats that could render the data illegible or unusable (e.g. the obsolescence of software).
There are various templates and checklists available for drawing up a data management plan.
- NWO [.docx]
- ZonMw [via DMPonline tool]
- Horizon 2020 [.pdf or via DMPonline tool]
- ERC [.docx or via DMPonline tool]
- 4TU.ResearchData template (generic template for unfunded research) [.docx]
It’s strongly suggested that you use the specific template of your project funder. Some funders are stimulating researchers to use the DMPonline tool, a free web-based tool to help you create data management plans using templates that address specific funder requirements.
For unfunded projects or when the funder does not provide a template, RDM Support offers researchers a generic template for a data management plan, as well as advice on its use.
Guidance on writing a DMP
Most templates are accompanied with guidance providing the most important questions to be answered in your data management plan. A quick overview:
- NWO - explanatory note included in template [.docx]
- ZonMw instructions for composing a data management plan [.pdf]
- Horizon 2020 Guidelines on FAIR Data Management [.pdf]
- ERC information on Open Research Data and Data Management Plans [.pdf]
- 4TU.ResearchData template - guidance included [.docx]