New Data Management Plan Resource

May 18, 2021

Laptop with DMPTool on the screenA Harvard Working Group has published a template to help researchers create a data management plan for their projects. Using DMPTool, a free resource supported by Harvard Library, researchers can access templates, example answers, and guiding resources to successfully write a data management plan for any research project or grant.

A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a formal document that outlines what you will do with your data during and after a research project. Documenting a plan for your data is a best practice and will help your data comply with internal and external policies for responsible data management. Learn more about creating a Data Management Plan.

Research support services are dedicated to assisting the research community in successfully managing data across projects and grants. DMPs are an integral part of supporting consistent research data management (RDM) practices, and are becoming increasingly required from federal funders. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a new Policy for Data Management and Sharing, which will be required for all research grants starting January 25, 2023.

Using the guidance from the NIH, the new Harvard University General DMP Template has been created for use by the Harvard research community. It is intended to provide organization-specific guidance for creating a relevant and useful data management plan for grants or other research projects. This is a funder agnostic template and can be used for a variety of grant types across Harvard communities.

The DMPTool is web-based and provides basic templates that can help you construct data management plans. Elements of your DMP may be reused in your Data Safety protocols and in the Institutional Review Board (IRB) methodology descriptions. The DMPTool provides you with templates, sponsor mandates, institutional requirements, and other instructional material.

View a PDF of the Template

Watch the DMPTool Tutorial (5 minutes)

First, get familiar with DMPTool:

  1. Go to https://dmptool.org
  2. Click “Sign in” in the top right-hand corner 
  3. Choose Option 1: If your institution is affiliated with DMPTool by clicking “Your institution” 
  4. Select “Harvard University” from the list of participating institutions and click “Go”
  5. Enter your Harvard Key credentials when prompted
  6. You should be successfully signed into DMPTool

Next, create a new plan with the Harvard Template:

  1. Click “Create plan” from the top menu
  2. Enter a project title for the research project you are planning
  3. Confirm “Harvard University” is the primary research organization
  4. Select the check box for “No funder associated with this plan or my funder is not listed”
  5. Choose the Harvard DMP Template you would like to use

Finally, here are some steps to successfully use the Harvard DMP Template:

  1. In the "Project Details" tab, ensure you have selected guidance from Harvard University and/or DMPTool.
     
  2. The "Contributors" tab allows you to add the project’s team members such as the Principal Investigator, Data Manager or Project Administrator. You can also add collaborators to invite specific people to read, edit, or administer the plan.
     
  3. In the "Write Plan" tab, you will see questions to help you write your plan for each DMP section. Use the Harvard example answers to assist you in identifying relevant practices for managing your data. It includes general examples that you can use to tailor appropriate answers for your grant application. These examples address key points that could be included in your DMP, and may or may not be applicable to your project. As a note, if there is an example that involves “consulting” with a group or department on campus, we highly suggest that you reach out to that group prior to completing your plan. Use the Guidance links and additional information to review important resources or policies that may pertain to your research project.
     
  4. In the "Research Outputs" tab, you can list potential research outputs you anticipate creating. For example, a dataset to be deposited in a repository, a methods protocol, or software.
     
  5. When you are ready to download your plan from the "Download" tab, it is most useful to download your DMP as a docx or text file. You may need to do some additional formatting in order to guarantee your plan meets the page limit when submitted with your grant application.
     
  6. Lastly, the "Finalize/Publish" tab allows you to set your plan visibility, and register your plan. Registering your DMP gives a unique identification number to your plan linking metadata for funders, institutions, and repositories, ultimating making your plan machine actionable.

Research is all about discovery, and the process of doing research sometimes requires you to shift gears and revise your intended path. Your DMP is a living document that you may need to alter as the course of your research changes. Remember to reference your DMP regularly, and any time your research plans change, you should review your DMP to make sure that it still meets your needs.

While 2023 seems far away, we encourage you to start using this template for any DMP you may need to create!

We are here to help! Contact us for assistance, feedback, or to schedule a consultation: dmptool_support@harvard.edu