Research Innovation Enterprise

Data management planning

What is a Data management plan?

Research data management is a way for you as a researcher to manage your data during the lifetime of a research project. You can demonstrate how you will do this via a data management plan (DMP). At a glance your Data Management Plan will typically state what data will be created and how, what your plans are for sharing and preserving the data, as well as any restrictions that may apply.

The University’s Research Data Policy requires researchers to submit a plan as part of the proposal for all research projects.

What should a data management plan cover?

Writing a data management plan typically involves answering a series of questions about how you plan to create, describe, secure, retain and share your data. There are tools and templates available to help you structure your plan, with questions or topics specific to your funder’s requirements.

Your plan should be concise and appropriate to the nature of your research, with more detailed plans for larger projects. You should justify the decisions you make and be prepared to implement your plan. You can also update your plan once your project has started to reflect changes in your research.

If you’ve not written a data management plan before, it can be helpful to look at what a good example should look like. The Digital Curation Centre maintains a list of example data management plans or you can contact for some Edinburgh Napier examples.

Details on what a DMP should include can be obtained from several sources, including, but not limited to:

A data management plan should typically consider the following topics:

What data will you create or re-use?
Are you reusing data?
What types of new data will you create?
What format and why? Recommended formatting from UK data service.
Estimate the size of the data you’ll create.
What methods will you use to capture data and how will these ensure that the data are high quality?

How will you document and describe your data?
What contextual information is needed for you or someone else to understand your data?
Are there any standards that you will use? The Digital Curation Centre maintains a list of metadata standards for different disciplines.

How will you protect your data and those associated with your research?
Where will you store your data?
How will you secure your data?
How will you protect your research participants?
Will you obtain informed consent for data retention and sharing?
How will you anonymise data to safeguard the privacy of your participants?

Which data will you retain and preserve after your project ends?
Which subsets of your data will you keep at the end of your project?
Will you retain all of the raw data or is a processed version more suitable to preserve?
How will you prepare your data for long-term preservation?
What contextual information do you need to retain so that your data remain understandable and usable?
Where will you archive your data to ensure that they are preserved and sustained for several years after your project ends?
How big will your final dataset be and will there be any costs associated with archiving them, such as data deposit charges?

What are your plans for data sharing?
Can you demonstrate that you’ll plan ahead to maximise data sharing?
Are there any reasons why you would not be able to share some of your data?

  • Would they be covered by the Data Protection Act, licence restrictions or contractual confidentiality clauses?
  • Are there ethical reasons why data should not be released?

When will you share your data?
How will you share your data?
How will you disseminate your research? Will you include a data access statement in published articles?
Does your chosen method of data preservation provide a persistent URL such as a Digital Object Identifier?
What licences will you assign to your data for sharing? ​​​​​


External funding DMP template. To be used for proposals to funders which do not provide a template. This is based on the MRC template. Text highlighted in yellow is the recommended answer but, can be changed if required for individual projects.

DMP template for internal or student project. To be used for proposals which are not externally funded – ie internal or unfunded projects. This is a simplified version of the external template but without the guidance

Funder templates. A number of Research Councils provide templates and guidance for writing data management plans on their websites. These templates have been designed to meet the requirements of individual Research Council data policies. We recommend that you use any templates or guidance provided by your research funder when applying for funding. This will ensure that you’ve covered all of the criteria that your plan will be reviewed against.

Tools to assist with generating DMPs:

DMPonline is a web-based tool that provides templates and embedded guidance for data management plans. It has been developed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

DMPonline contains templates for all of the major UK funding bodies, as well as some international funders. It also provides generic templates to use if your funder doesn’t provide one.

If you’ve not used DMPonline before, you can watch a short screencast that demonstrates how to use the tool. To access the tool you will need an account, which you will need to register for when you sign in for the first time.

Once registered, you can edit your profile to link your account to Edinburgh Napier University. This will enable you to sign in to DMPonline using your institutional credentials (Edinburgh Napier University username) when you next use the tool.

When creating a new plan in DMPonline, either select the generic DMP template or chose your funder from the dropdown list. This will ensure that you are presented with the correct template, as well as relevant guidance provided by your funder. It is advisable to tick the DCC guidance box.

When you have finished writing your data management plan, you can export it from DMPonline in different file formats, including docx, pdf, csv, text, html, json and xml. You can also select which information you want to include in your export and alter the formatting to meet your funder requirements. DMPonline allows you to share your draft or completed data management plan with your collaborators, including those external to the University.

DMPTool is similar to DMPonline, but includes templates and guidance based around the requirements of major US funding bodies.

To use DMPTool you first need to set up an account. Data management plans created using DMPTool can be shared with collaborators and then exported in either PDF or RTF formats.

Help with writing your data management plan

The Research & Innovation Office provide help with writing data management plans and can review them prior to submission with grant applications.

A review can check that you’ve addressed all of the relevant issues and ensure that your plans are suitable for the type of data you’ll be creating. A review can also confirm that your plans comply with policies and legislation relevant to your project. this will also include a data protection review for any studies involving personal data

It is recommended that at least three weeks are allowed for reviews, particularly for popular grant calls, but we will do our best to help if your deadline is sooner. Contact us at to arrange a review or assistance in developing your data management plan.

For specific questions around data management within Edinburgh Napier University you can also contact:
Data security/storage/file formats/encryption and databases should be directed to Lynn McIntosh via IS Help Desk.

GDPR/Data protection

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