A DMP is a “living” document outlining how the research data collected or generated will be handled during and after a research project. It is a brief plan to define: how the data will be created; how it will be documented; who can access it; where it will be stored; whether it will be shared and where it will be preserved.
It should describe:
- The dataset: what kind of data will the project collect or generate, and to whom might they be useful later on?
- Standards and metadata: What is the data about? Who created it and why? In what forms it is available? Can your data be combined with other data sources (interoperability)? Metadata answers such questions to enable data to be found and understood, ideally according to the particular standards of your scientific discipline. Use your disciplinary standards to enable interoperability, or if there are no standards in your discipline just describe what type of metadata will be created and how (see https://www.rd-alliance.org/groups/metadata-standards-directory-working-group.html as a reference). Also, document your definitions, variables, machine configurations et cetera in a way that is common in your field.
- Data sharing: Sharing data outside the project team is the default, so legitimate reasons for not sharing resulting data should be explained in the DMP.
- Archiving and preservation: The usability of data depends not only on storage and backup but perhaps also on well-preserved software and on conversion to new file formats. Where will the data, metadata, documentation and software be preserved for the long-term?
Please note that the DMP is not a fixed document; it evolves and gains more precision and substance during the lifespan of the project, and this is the reason why you should keep it updated!
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