Data Management Plans
Planning for a project involves making decisions about data resources and potential products. A Data Management Plan (DMP) describes data that will be acquired or produced during research; how the data will be managed, described, and stored, what standards you will use, and how data will be handled and protected during and after the completion of the project. A DMP is required by current USGS policy for all projects beginning after Oct. 1, 2016.
A guide to developing DMPs:
The resources in this section will help you understand how to develop your DMP. The checklist outlines the minimum USGS requirements. The FAQ and DMP Writing Best Practices list below will help you understand other important considerations when developing your own DMP. To help standardize or provide guidance on DMPs, a science center or funding source may choose to document their own Data Management strategy. Click here for a template for developing a
Science Center Data Management Strategy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQ's were developed to extend the information provided by the USGS Fundamental Science Practices DMP FAQ Page. This list also presents exemplary solutions from USGS science centers that are currently in practice.
Business practices that affect project workflows vary among science centers and funding sources; however, in general terms, DMP creation should occur between the proposal stage and accepted funding stage of the project. SM 502.6 requires "The project work plan (SM 502.2) for every research project funded or managed by the USGS must include a data management plan prior to initiation of the project." Below are example project workflow diagrams showing when a DMP is required to be completed; however, you should use the workflow established by your center or program, if applicable. The DMP may need to be updated at various other project milestones.
A DMP developed to meet the requirements of a funding source is usually acceptable if it captures, at a minimum, the same information as the science center format. Deficiencies should be addressed as an addendum to the funding source DMP.
There are numerous users of a DMP. The author uses the DMP to plan how data will be handled throughout its lifecycle, updating the document throughout the project. Additionally, the author uses a DMP to capture and record relevant information in a timely manner that can be used later on for other requirements such as metadata. Project staff use the DMP to help understand roles and responsibilities of various team members, especially in teams involving partners from different organizations. Data managers and communication teams can use the information to ensure that preservation and data sharing activities are done appropriately.
Funding sources can use DMPs to promote transparent, high quality, and discoverable products. Lastly, in the event of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, your FOIA officer can use the DMP as substantiating material. The DMP, considered part of a formally agreed upon project work plan, legally establishes who is responsible for providing free public access to the data and what data are proprietary if they are used by the USGS.
You may need to develop your DMP throughout your project to maintain accurate and useful content. Understanding the USGS Science Data Lifecycle will help you develop DMP content; however, specific guidance may also be provided by your funding source or science center.
A Single Document with Color Coding
DMPs are focused on the data-related aspects of the project and work together with other descriptive project documents such as a proposal, project plan, or BASIS+ entry. Often DMPs contain planning, roles and responsibilities sections that collect similar information to that found in other documents, but this "duplicate" content is necessary for anyone outside of your project to understand your DMP.
There are many ways to organize and store DMP files. It's most important that you simply develop a consistent strategy. Organization and naming conventions can be associated with other useful elements of a project such as project IDs, project stages, fiscal year, or any combination. Storage options to consider include databases, single files, or folders of content. Online data management and documentation tools can also affect the management of your documents. You may choose to create content or use forms that can be loaded and stored in the software tool.
The Great Lakes Science Center and the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK) are two examples of centers that conceptualize project documentation as a bundle, where a project folder comprises many documents and forms that describe the project and data. The bundle includes documents such as a Study Plan, a DMP, and a metadata questionnaire. NOROCK additionally uses Google Drive to house research documentation (proposals, Project Work Plans, DMPs, etc.). The file structure on Google Drive uses the folder hierarchy. This example is for a single PI, but a similar structure was set up for all researchers. The PI creates the task folder named according to each BASIS+ account and uploads the relevant files.
This USGS checklist provides guidance in what must be considered in developing a DMP for all new USGS projects.
DMP Writing Best Practices
Templates and Examples
Below is a selection of DMP templates provided by USGS science centers and programs. Each template was designed with specific needs and use cases in mind. When developing your own or choosing an existing DMP template consider your own project needs.
DMPToolThe DMPTool is a free web-based application, created through a collaboration with multiple institutions, including DataONE. While available to anyone, USGS staff can create a DMPTool account with "U.S. Geological Survey" as the affiliated institution.
Below is a selection of tools available to USGS staff. Each tool was designed with specific needs and use cases in mind.
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:
Effective October 1, 2016 the USGS Survey Manual chapter SM 502.6 - Fundamental Science Practices: Scientific Data Management Foundation, requires the project work plan (SM 502.2) for every research project funded or managed by the USGS must include a data management plan prior to initiation of the project.
SM 502.6 further specifies, a data management plan will include standards and intended actions as appropriate to the project for acquiring, processing, analyzing, preserving, publishing/sharing, describing, and managing the quality of, backing up, and securing the data holdings.