Data Management Planning

A data management plan describes how research data will be collected, how the data will be used and stored during the research project, and how its reuse will be enabled and long-term preservation ensured after the original research is completed.

The data management plan must be continuously maintained and kept up-to-date throughout the course of the research. A detailed data management plan should give answers to at least the following questions:

  • What kind of data will be collected?
  • How will the data be collected?
  • Who holds the copyright and intellectual property rights of the data?
  • What kind of possession issues are involved?
  • Who will decide on access to the data?
  • How will the research participants be informed?
  • Which software will be used in storing and processing the data?
  • How will the (technical) quality of the data be assured?
  • Which data formats and storage media will be used?
  • What kind of rights will be granted to different user groups for reading and managing data files?
  • What kind of data and file backup procedures will be used?
  • How will data processing be documented?
  • How will the metadata on the data collection and dataset content be stored?
  • How will confidentiality be ensured?
  • How will data protection be carried out?
  • What will happen to the data after the original research is completed?

Below are two concrete examples on how a succinct data management plan, appended to the research plan, can be structured. The data management plan can also be more detailed.

Data Management Plan for Quantitative Data (Mail Survey)

Short version

New empirical data will be collected in the project. The data will be collected through a mail survey. Data processing, creation of backups, and data protection will be systematically taken care of. A data matrix based on survey responses will be archived at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive after the completion of the project. In the survey cover letter, the research participants will be informed that the information related to their names and addresses will be removed from the data and that the digital survey data will be archived for research and teaching purposes. The possibilities for continued use of the data will be ensured by carefully documenting the data collection methods as well as the contents of the dataset.

More detailed version

Dataset reference and name

[Subject of the research] in Finland 2015: Survey

Dataset description

Data will be collected using a postal survey. Survey questions will cover [main subject areas of the research]. The survey will be posted to a representative sample of 3,000 Finnish- and Swedish-speaking people aged 15-79 years living in Finland. It is expected to have around 40-50% response rate.

Processing, standards and metadata

Data will be processed and analysed using SPSS. Variables and value names will be constructed logically following the data processing guidelines of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. Once ready and checked, a copy of anonymised dataset will be sent to the data archive. Storage and backups of data files will be managed by [university name] IT Services during the research project. Possibilities for continued use of the data will be ensured by carefully documenting data collection methods as well as the contents of the dataset. For documentation, the project will use an international metadata standard called Data Documentation Initiative.

Ethics and privacy

The direct identifiers of respondents (names and contact information) will be stored separately from the data and will be destroyed after the anonymised dataset has been checked and validated.

According to the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity this project does not need an ethical review by ethic committee. When informing respondents, the persons responsible will make sure that respondents understand that the data will be anonymised and that data will be collected not only for the primary project but also for the purpose of subsequent sharing with the research community.

Data sharing

At the very beginning of the research project, the members of the research team will decide and agree on the tasks, responsibilities and rights relating to data collection, data processing and use.

During the three first years of the project, the data will be used primarily by the research team members. Information on the data collected will be supplied on the project web site, and the related metadata will be published in the Finnish Social Science Data Archive’s data catalogue. Requests for the use of the data by others will be approved by the research team. Permission for data use will be granted if there is no overlap of research questions with the primary research.

After the three years have passed, the data will become openly available for others for study, teaching and research purposes via the Finnish Social Science Data Archive.

Archiving and preservation

The data generated in the research will be archived at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The data archive is responsible for curating, preserving and disseminating the dataset. The data will be distributed free of charge for research, teaching and study. For users who do not speak Finnish, the archive translates the data (question texts and response categories) into English on request, free of charge.

Data Management Plan for Qualitative Data (Theme Interviews)

New empirical data will be collected in the project. The data will be collected through interviews. Data processing, creation of backups, and data protection will be systematically taken care of. The audio recordings of interviews will be transcribed into text files, which will be archived at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive for research and teaching purposes after the completion of the project. The respondents will be informed about archiving. The recorded interviews will be destroyed after the original research is completed. Information that allows the identification of the research participants will be removed from the archived text files. The possibilities for continued use of the data will be ensured by carefully documenting the data collection methods as well as the contents of the dataset, and by complementing the transcribed text files with basic information about the interview.

Links

More detailed information on various steps involved in data management:

Data management checklists

Additional information available in Finnish on the following web pages:

updated 2015-01-28