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Research data management: Data management plans

Research data management covers the planning, collecting, organising, managing, storage, security, backing up, preserving, and sharing your data.

What is a research data management plan?

What constitutes a plan?

A data management plan is a document that describes how you will collect, organise, manage, store, secure, back up, preserve, and share your data.


Good data management does not happen by accident. It needs to be planned. A data management plan should be created at the start of a research project so that good practices are established early.

A plan will assist your research team to:

  •     comply with relevant policies and legislation
  •     comply with the requirements of grant-making bodies
  •     comply with standard industrial practices.

Funding agency requirements for data management

Increasingly, research funding agencies, both internationally and in Australia, are requiring sound data management practices and data managment plans to form part of their funding requirements.  In Australia, the Australian Research Council and the NHMRC both have requirements for data management and planning to be addressed as part of their application process and funding rules for research projects.

Australian Research Council

The ARC has recently released it's policy statement on research data management, and funding guidelines which include a section on managing research data.

A11.5.2 Researchers and institutions have an obligation to care for and maintain research data in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007). Researchers must outline briefly in their Proposal how they plan to manage research data arising from a Project. The ARC strongly encourages the depositing of data arising from a project in an appropriate publically accessible subject and/or institutional repository.


The NHMRC requires researchers to document data management practices and address issues such as ownership, ethics, storage, data sharing and disposal.

The NHMRC is a signatory to the Wellcome Trust's joint statement on Sharing research data to improve public health.

Most recently the NHMRC has released a Statement on Data Sharing which states that:

  • NHMRC acknowledges the importance of making data publicly accessible.
  • NHMRC encourages data sharing and providing access to data and other research outputs (metadata, analysis code, study protocols, study materials and other collected data) arising from NHMRC supported research.

The Statement goes on to provide advice on planning and managing research data for the purposes of sharing and re-use.



International funding bodies

Funding agencies such as the UK Medical Research Council and the US National Science Foundation now require data management planning as part of their funding agreements.


Sample data management plans

The UK and USA have well developed data management policies and procedures.  You can find sample data management plans on several websites.  Here are some to give you an idea.

Research data management plan checklist

This checklist is a guide to developing a research data management plan for your project.

+ Project Description

+ Context

+ Data Capture and Formats

+ Organising and Storing Data

+ Long-term Preservation

+ Ethics and Intellectual Property

+ Data Sharing and Re-use


Use the following templates and checklists are to prepare simple Data Management Plans.