Managing your data is a multi-step process. The planning for data collection is the first step, but it is also important to think about what you will do with your data when the project is completed and what long-term retention needs you might have. In order to properly manage your data you need to understand the nature of the data, its audience and ownership, and its long-term viability.
Planning for your data management needs will save you time and resources in the long run, and ensure that your data will be compliant with standards in your field and usable in the future.
Creating a data management plan (DMP) can be valuable to you and may be required by your funding agency. Your DMP is a dynamic document - you will want to review your plan regularly to make sure it still addresses your needs, and update your plan if there are changes in your research project.
What should be included in a data management plan? Generally, a DMP may contain the following:
Always check with your funding agencies for specific requirements for plan content.
There are several web-based tools to help build and edit customizable plans according to the requirements of select funders (including the NSF).
DMPTool is a service provided by the University of California Curation Center (UC3)
DMP Online is a service provided by the UK's Digital Curation Centre (DCC)
The resources below draw together details researchers are often asked to provide in data management plans. They can serve as good general models for any project even though these may have been created for particular programs or funders: