Data Management Plans

What are data management plans?

A data management plan (DMP) is a living document for a research project, which outlines data creation, data policies, access and ownership rules, management practices, management facilities and equipment, and who will be responsible for what.

Here are some examples of DMPs specific to a research domain:

Many Australian universities have data management policies and tools available for researchers who need to create a DMP at the start of a research project.

Read publicly available data management policies from Australian research institutions.

Why do I need a data management plan?

Data management planning is an essential component of delivering a successful research project. A DMP can help ensure that research data generated is well managed and can be reused efficiently.

In the past, data management was typically done at the last minute and using the first method that came to mind — an approach that can be time-consuming and error-prone. Taking time at the start of a research project to put in place robust, easy-to-use data management procedures can pay off in the long run.

Inadequate data management can lead to catastrophes like the loss of data or the violation of people’s privacy.

Good data management can also be essential for funding. The National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council both require projects seeking funding to comply with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

What should a data management plan cover?

A DMP should include:

  • a back-up strategy
  • an existing data survey
  • outline of data to be created
  • file format guidance
  • metadata instructions
  • ownership, access and security information
  • data organisation and naming conventions
  • information on managing data transfers and synchronisation between machines
  • guidelines for collaborative writing with colleagues
  • version control
  • data storage locations
  • hardware budget and management information
  • bibliography management tools
  • data sharing, publishing, archiving and licensing instructions
  • data destruction rules
  • responsibility allocations
  • a budget for the overall DMP.

Infrastructure approaches

DMPs are evolving. Institutions are shifting from approaches that create static, stand-alone documents to integrated infrastructure tools connecting a suite of enterprise systems.

Machine readable DMPs can save time for researchers in provisioning research tools, software and safe data storage. A well-formed DMP can streamline the data publication process at journal submission time.

A report on Machine-actionable Data Management Plans (maDMPs) reflects collective thinking on this next generation approach.

Watch an ARDC webinar on infrastructure and DMPs.

Data Management Plans (DMPs) Interest Group

We support the DMPs Interest Group, which has been established for people interested in discussing, building and improving DMPs, including best practice and technical tools.

The group’s Australasian membership includes data librarians, repository managers, infrastructure developers and anyone involved in managing or advocating for data management plans.

It meets 3 times a year for an unrecorded chat on DMP infrastructure realtalk: sharing current activities and discussing interesting problems.

Join the DMPs Interest Group.

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Last updated

14 May 2022



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