Preparing a Data Management Plan (DMP)

A Data Management Plan is a document specifying how research data will be handled both during and after a research project. It identifies key actions and strategies to ensure that research data are of a high-quality, secure, sustainable, and – to the extent possible – accessible and reusable.

Why develop a DMP?

Creating a DMP is considered good practice for any research project using or generating data. After all, planning is the first step towards proper research data management.

Decisions made early on affect what you can do later, so good and timely planning can save you a lot of time and problems in the longer run. It also helps you consider the necessary resources and costs for data management, so you can include these in your grant applications.

In addition, more and more research funders require a short data management statement or plan as part of the grant proposal process, and a full-blown DMP after funding has been approved.

Ghent University's RDM policy framework also strongly encourages all researchers to create DMPs for their projects. In addition:

  • A DMP is mandatory for BOF- and IOF-funded research awarded from 2020 onwards.
  • Submitting a DMP is mandatory for PhD students and/or other researchers in some Faculties (e.g. Psychology and Educational Sciences, Law and Criminology).
  • DMPs may also be required as part of the ethical approval process.
  • Even if a full DMP is not required, a record of processing activities is needed to comply with the GDPR when working with personal data.

Writing a DMP

A good DMP takes into account the applicable regulations and data policies, and considers the whole research data lifecycle.

It typically addresses the following topics:

  • What data will be collected, and how.
  • How data will be documented.
  • How any ethical and legal issues will be dealt with.
  • How data will be stored and backed up during research.
  • Any plans for preserving (some of the) data beyond the project's end.
  • Any plans for sharing or providing access to (some of the) data.
  • Who will be responsible for data management and what additional resources may be required.

What to cover in your DMP may also depend on your funder. Many research funders provide their own DMP template. Ghent University also has various templates for researchers not writing a DMP for a specific funder. Funder and institutional templates can be accessed via DMPonline.be.

DMPonline.be is an online planning tool to help you write an effective DMP based on an institutional or funder template.

With the tool, you can:

  • Sign in with your UGent account and create a new DMP. The tool takes you step-by-step through a number of data management questions based on a relevant DMP template. Guidance is available to help you answer the questions.
  • Select a suitable DMP template and guidance depending on the requirements. The tool contains different templates and guidance associated with either UGent (generic or Faculty-specific) or external research funders (including FWO, ERC and H2020).
  • Easily share plans with collaborators within and outside UGent
  • Export completed plans in various file formats
Need more help? Check this (re)Search tip on how to use DMPonline.be.

Treat your DMP as a living document: created before or in the early stages of research, but updated where necessary in the course of the project. You may not know all the answers at the outset, and circumstances may change.

Not sure what to write in your DMP? Have a look at example DMPs from other research projects. You can find public DMPs via the following sources:

DMP feedback

For various templates, evaluation grids are available to (self-)assess your completed DMP:

You can also request feedback on your DMP via rdm.support@ugent.be. If you have to submit a DMP for a funder, please allow us enough time to review your DMP. Don’t wait until just before the submission deadline to get in touch!

More information