University of Delaware

Data Management Plans

Many federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and most recently the National Science Foundation (NSF), are requiring that grant applications contain data management plans for projects involving data collection.  Beginning January 18, 2011, proposals submitted to NSF must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled "Data Management Plan" (DMP).  This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.  According to the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, the DMP will now be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal.  Proposals that do not include a DMP will not be able to be submitted. 

DMP Tool UD Data Management Workshop UD Library Resources
Resources and Examples Federal Agency Policies on Data Management UD IT Research Computing

Elements of a Good Data Management Plan include:

Data description

Brief, high-level description of the information to be gathered; the nature, scope and scale of the data that will be generated or collected.

Content and Format

Formats in which the data will be generated, maintained, and made available, including a justification for the procedural and archival appropriateness of those formats.

Access & sharing

Indicate how you intend to archive and share your data and why you have chosen that particular option.  This should include a description and rationale for any restrictions on who may access the data under what conditions and a timeline for providing access.  This should also include a description of the resources and capabilities (equipment, connections, systems, expertise, repositories, etc.) needed to meet anticipated requests.  These resources and capabilities should be appropriate for the projected usage, addressing any special requirements such as those associate with streaming video or audio, movement of massive data sets, etc.


Statement of plans for metadata content and format, including description of documentation plans and rationale for selection of appropriate standards.  Existing, accepted standards should be used where possible.  Where standards are missing or inadequate, alternate strategies for enabling data re-use and re-purposing should be described.

Intellectual property rights protection

Statement of plans, where appropriate and necessary, for protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property and other rights.


A description of technical and procedural protections for information, including confidential information, and how permissions, restrictions, and embargoes will be enforced.

Selection & retention periods

A description of how data will be selected for arching, how long the data will be held, and plans for eventual or termination of the data collection in the future.

Archiving & preservation

Description of plans for preserving data in accessible form.  Plans should include a timeline proposing how long the data are to preserved, outlining any changes in access anticipated during the preservation timeline, and documenting the resources and capabilities (e.g., equipment, connections, systems, expertise) needed to meet the preservation goals.  Where data will be preserved beyond the duration of direct project funding, a description of other funding sources of institutional commitments necessary to achieve the long-term preservation and access goals should be provided.

Storage and backup

Storage methods and backup procedures for the data, including the physical and cyber resources and facilities that will be used for the effective preservation and storage of the research data.


Names of the individuals responsible for data management in the research project.  *This particularly important when working with multiple PIs and/or collaborative partners.


The costs of preparing data and documentation for archiving and how these costs will be paid.  Requests for funding may be included, depending on the agency (i.e., NSF guidance)