Planning for data management across the project life cycle

Data Plan Topics

Topics most plans cover

  • the kind of data to be collected and eventually shared
  • whether confidentiality is an issue and how it will be addressed during the project and as the data is shared
  • any conditions regarding the dissemination of data — such as embargo, approval or aggregation
  • how the data will be disseminated and preserved (Name a specific repository or location, if possible)
  • maintenance of backups or other means to protect data during the project

Additional topics 

  • If security is an issue, how will it be protected? What specific methods, such as secure computers and facilities or encryption will be enacted?
  • Are there any conflicts between the policies of the granting agency and those of other institutions like the home institution or IRB? How are these conflicts addressed?
  • What specific materials, in addition to research data, will be archived? Do these materials ensure replicability of results?
  • Do you have permission to redistribute and archive any data for which you are not the creator?

Initial Planning

Key Objectives: data documentation and quality, funding agency requirements, attention to confidentiality, archival/retention, ownership and licensing of data

  • What type of information will be collected? What is the format (images, data file, maps)?
  • Do you have an estimate of the amount of data? Will storage requirements be extensive?
  • What supplemental material will you provide to document the data, its collection and analysis?
  • Are there any confidentiality or privacy issues for the dataset? How do you plan to address them prior to archiving the data?
  • Who will own, control and update the data? Who will make licensing agreements and ensure compliance with copyrights?
  • Where do you plan to store the data? Will the data be shared through personal contact, widely distributed by a public repository or somewhere in between?

Project Completion

Key Objectives: review of data documentation, review of confidentiality and privacy, review of ownership and licensing

  • Are there any alterations, transformations or imputations that are undocumented? Are there any that were required for analysis or necessary for future use?
  • If this is a dataset composed of original data, have you included the collection instrument or methods (survey, equipment specifications, etc.)?
  • Have you identified potential repositories for the data? Can they meet your storage needs?
  • If any data are not of your creation, are you in compliance with the rights of the creators?

Data Archiving

Key Objectives: retention specifics, ownership and licensing terms, updates, access conditions, protection of confidentiality

  • How long should the data be retained? Is it permanent? Will it be updated, and if so, who is responsible for updates?
  • Who controls access and fields questions?
  • Who are the primary contacts, if not the individual above? Will the data be released immediately, or is there an embargo?
  • Are you in compliance with the requirements of the data repository where the data will reside?