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Online data management planning tool tames data and meets researchers’ funding requirements

A group of major research institutions is partnering to develop a flexible online tool to help researchers generate data management plans.  This effort is in response to demands from funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that researchers plan for managing their research data.

The partners in this project include the University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library, the UCLA Library, the UCSD Libraries, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Virginia Library, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, DataONE, and the United Kingdom’s Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

By joining forces the partners expect to consolidate expertise and reduce costs in addressing data management needs.  The primary goal of the partnership is to simplify the process of creating plans while increasing the quality of decisions made by funders to pre-define policies and infrastructures that support research activities.   CDL Executive Director, Laine Farley stated, “This tool will streamline UC faculty’s ability to produce a credible and high-quality plan for managing data.  An important consequence of that is the general raising of awareness about the services that libraries provide in data curation.”

The tool for generating data management plans (DMP) will be based on DMP Online, a software tool developed by the DCC and designed to accommodate different funder requirements; this function will be tested by tailoring it to the requirements of US research funding agencies and the institutions they fund.  It will be publicly available, allowing researchers at all institutions to initiate a data management plan quickly and provide answers to various data management questions relating to their research, such as how data will be documented throughout the research project and made available for public use and potential secondary uses, how data quality will be assured, data backup procedures, and preservation plans.  The tool will make the entire process easier, less expensive, and more consistent in moving research data management forward at the national and international levels.  It will also aid institutions in identifying associated costs and in future resource planning.  The new version of the DMP is expected to be available within the next several months.

Kevin Ashley, DCC director, stated, “Research is an international activity, and data management planning is also international in scope. Funders around the world already require such plans with grant applications or as a condition of funding; many more are planning to do so. The DCC is pleased to be part of this work to develop planning tools that also have international utility and relevance.”

In fiscal year 2010, the University of California received more than $498 million in research funds from the NSF alone, so the potential impact of the data management requirements on researchers is enormous.

James Carey, Professor of Entomology at University of California, Davis said, “Thanks to […] the UC Curation Center I am confident that the section in my proposal on data management that we submitted last week will not only impress the reviewers of our grant proposal (which of course we hope to get funded), but also enlighten them and the program officers about UC’s leadership in data management and curation. All of my colleagues from the other institutions involved in our research program were impressed with (not to mention jealous of) the help we are receiving form UC3.”

The press release can also be found at the UC Newsroom: