One of our key tasks for the Research360 project was to produce an institutional template for data management plans (DMPs) at the University of Bath — an initial version of this is now complete and available to download, along with guidance on its completion.
- University of Bath Data Management Plan Template
- Writing your data management plan : University of Bath DMP template guidance
We used an iterative method to develop these documents, going back and forth between members of the project team and a number of researchers to produce a template that is functional and fills the needs of researchers as well as the institution and our funders. Since most other UK funders already provide a template, we focused on the needs of our EPSRC-funded researchers, but drew heavily on the policies and templates of all the other RCUK funders, as well as the DCC Checklist for a Data Management Plan.
The template itself is available in two versions: a blank version, and one with suggested possible answers. The latter was developed based on feedback from researchers (who wanted a simple way to get started on a DMP) and could potentially be used in a multiple-choice fashion to quickly draft a DMP which covers the full range of issues.
We suggest a two-stage process to developing a data management plan using the institutional template:
- Pre-award: when applying for funding, use the multiple-choice template to quickly produce a basic DMP and identify resources which may need to be included in the project budget;
- Post-award: after funding has been granted, review the initial template and fill in further details as appropriate for the project in question — at this point issues should be referred to the relevant University support department (e.g. computer services) or third-party body (e.g. data archives).
This will ensure that all potential issues are surfaced at an early stage, while allowing the researchers to focus on the more important scientific aspects of the bid. By building up the DMP in several stages, each of which is itself only a small step, we hope to lower the barrier to entry for data management planning.
The guidance document accompanying the template serves two purposes:
- To give advice on how each question should be answered; and
- To explain why each question is important.
Our intention is to help researchers make informed decisions about both what should go into their DMP and what they can leave out if it does not apply to them. We also intend this document to signpost specific infrastructure and support services that researchers may not be fully aware of. We have therefore taken care to highlight relevant University support services and policies for each question.
We have begun work on specialised versions of the template to fulfil particular sets of requirements, by narrowing down the questions asked and giving additional guidance where appropriate.
All of the funders we work with have slightly different requirements and emphases for data management plans, so by tailoring our own template to suit the needs of each funder (e.g. by being selective about the questions that are included), we hope to be able to maintain a single set of guidance which will apply to all funders.
We are also developing a version of the template to help researchers develop a standing research data policy for their research group or department. We hope to implement a mechanism to allow these local policies to be published on the web, so that each project DMP can focus on project-specific issues and simply refer to the standing policy anything more generic.