Category Archives: Data Management Plans

Practical Strategies for Research Data Management: workshop slides

Yesterday I ran a session on Practical Strategies for Research Data Management, where we talked about the basics of research data management, including options for data storage and organising data. We also looked at how to write a data management plan using a DMP template, and ended with a game of DMP Bingo.

Thanks to everyone who took part and contributed to the discussions.

The slides are available here:


A reminder too that will be running two online sessions covering the same material in January. Sign-up and see full details on My Learning Centre.

Applying for AHRC funding? Get to know your DMP

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has changed how it wants funding applicants to tell them how they will manage and share their research data. Previously, a Technical Plan was required, which would then be reviewed by members of the Technical College, but AHRC now requires a Data Management Plan (DMP) to be submitted instead, which will be assessed by members of the Academic College as part of the whole proposal.

A DMP will be mandatory for all Research Grants, Follow on Funding and Leadership Fellows proposals, and harmonises AHRC with other Research Councils, most of which require a DMP.

Plans should give information about:

  • Types of data
  • Proposed methodologies
  • Short and long term storage
  • Data sharing
  • Ethical and legal considerations

AHRC has updated its Research Funding Guide to include guidance about what information to include for these sections, the format to use (no more than 2 pages of A4 at font size 11!), and how to name your plan.

The funding guide also describes that when submitting, applicants confirm that their institution has considered and will meet a number of points which support and facilitate good data management. These services and information about them are all available at the OU, so if you have any questions please get in touch.

DMP Online has also been updated and now has an AHRC DMP template with relevant guidance, making it easy to structure and format your plan.

As usual, we are very happy to review DMPs before they are submitted (you can email them to, and, as we do for other funders, we will add examples of completed plans to our website as soon as we have them. If you’re happy to share yours, please let us know!

Ps. You might want to check out the recording and slides from our recent online training session on Writing Successful Data Management Plans

Planning for Research Data Management: workshop slides

Yesterday I ran a session on Planning for Research Data Management as part of the Core Skills series.

We talked about the current RDM landscape and looked in detail at Data Management Plans using a DMP template, and ended with a game of DMP Bingo.

The slides are available here:

Thanks to everyone who took part!

A reminder too that we’ll be delivering an online session on the legal and ethical issues around data sharing next week.

This will be run using Adobe Connect; joining instructions can be found on the event pages on My Learning Centre, but if in doubt please email us at

Research Data Resolutions

At the end of January we held our Research Data Resolutions event, where we invited researchers and anyone who supports research at the OU to join us for an open discussion of the issues around research data management (RDM).

What was the aim of the session?

We offer RDM support to the whole University through our website, training, repository and enquiries, but contact with researchers and those supporting them is largely limited to those who get in touch or attend our sessions, and often that it is to meet a particular need (which is great and we’re very happy to do), but we found ourselves wondering how could widen our knowledge of RDM at the OU?

It seems natural for us to focus on the mandated and defined goals of data management planning and meeting funder requirements – they are of course important – but are they the things that are most important to researchers? Are there other issues that we, as a support team, could know more about?

So, we decided to have an informal and open forum for an hour to hear what the important issues are at the University, and to encourage a sharing of experiences and ideas. If we learned anything that would help us understand better how OU research colleagues work, and how we can best support them, then all the better.

What did we talk about?

Without an agenda or structure, we set about seeing where the conversation took us, which touched on, and often returned to, several themes:

Data sharing

  • Why share? – publisher and funder requirements – what are the motivators?
  • What to share – selecting and preparing data to be shared – What’s relevant to support a particular publication? What will be useful to others? How much work is it to get it ready?
  • Sharing responsibly – How to effectively anonymise – The risks of data sharing when the potential of future technologies to aggregate data is unknown.

Informing participants and gaining consent

  • How to be clear and granular when communicating with participants how data will be gathered, stored and shared – The difficulty in balancing giving enough detail and being too complicated to understand and abide by.
  • Managing participants’ rights without compromising the research process.

Data management planning

  • Even if you know what you are doing you need to explain it well for others to understand.
  • The need for clear guidance and to know what’s expected.
  • How long should we retain data?

Storage and tools

  • Balancing convenience with security – Where is the data stored and backed-up? Is it compliant with data protection, and what about GDPR?
  • Can one system fit all? Can the university support everyone’s needs?
  • Using open source software to build our own tools – can we adapt existing software to give the functionality and security we want?

These are the main topics but even during the short time we had, we touched on many more too.

What did we learn?

As expected, there were certainly more questions than definitive answers, but the conversations illustrated a couple of things I think we already knew:

  • That research at the OU is varied and different disciplines, methods, and groups have different needs and require different solutions and approaches.
  • That everything is connected. The topics we talked about overlapped and connected in many ways.

It also indicated, from a relatively modestly sized group of ten, that there is an appetite to discuss RDM amongst OU colleagues.

It was certainly very helpful for us to hear how researchers work, and we hope those taking part enjoyed sharing their experiences too.

Next steps

As it was the first of this kind of event we’ll reflect on how it went and think whether we should do it again, and in what form? If you have any feedback, are interested in joining another session, or would like to suggest a particular research data issue for discussion, please get in touch – and watch this space!

And many thanks to everyone who took part and contributed to the discussion, either at the event or by sending their ideas in advance.

Written by Dan Crane, Research Support Librarian

Online training: Writing successful data management plans

Last Friday I ran the first in our series of online training sessions. This morning’s session focused on Data Management Plans.

If you were unable to attend, here are the slides and a recording of the session is available on YouTube.

Here are the other sessions we’ll be delivering over the next couple of months:

These sessions will be run using Adobe Connect; joining instructions can be found on the event pages on My Learning Centre, but if in doubt please email us at

If there’s any other training you’d like us to deliver online, feel free to let us know by emailing or commenting below.

New Wellcome Trust policy for research outputs

Last week, the Wellcome Trust announced an update to their policy on managing and sharing research data, which is now a Policy on data, software and materials management and sharing.

Researchers applying to Wellcome in future will be required to prepare to share other outputs of their work, such as original software and research materials like antibodies, cell lines or reagents.

As David Carr, from Wellcome’s Open Research team, writes in their announcement:

 “As a global research foundation, we’re dedicated to ensuring that the outputs of the research we fund – including publications, data, code and materials – can be accessed and used in ways that will maximise the resulting health benefits. 

Making outputs available can spark new lines of discovery and innovation, and helps to ensure that findings can be verified and reproduced.”

Once the new policy is put in to place, applicants for Wellcome funding will have to complete a broader outputs management plan (rather than a data management plan) to address how other research outputs will be managed and shared.

The requirement for the new outputs management plans will be added to application forms over the next year. Guidance already exists on which kinds of work will require one:

Examples of applications that require an outputs management plan

Wellcome have long been champions of ‘open’, being one of the first to require those they fund to make their publications and data openly available, and this update reflects a move towards an Open Research approach, something they have been developing with their Open Research Pilot Project and Open Research publishing platform.

Would it be a surprise if other funders followed suit in expanding their requirements to explicitly consider other research outputs?

Questions about the policy can be put to the Wellcome Policy Team or feel free to get in touch with the us in the Library Research Support team, now or when you are writing your outputs management plan.

Focus on RDM tools: DMPOnline

The OU offers a range of tools and services which are designed to help researchers plan, manage, work with and share their research data. Over the coming weeks I’m going to focus on a few of these tools and services in these blogposts, including how to access and use them and how they can make your life easier.

This week: DMPOnline

Data Management Plans (DMPs) are often requested by funding bodies when applying for grants, and the University expects all research staff and students working on a project which collects, creates or uses data to have written a DMP, regardless of funder requirements (check out the OU’s Research Data Management Policy). This can be a daunting task, particularly if you’ve never written one before, but using DMPOnline can help you to structure your plan and to easily find the information and guidance you need to answer the questions.

DMPOnline is developed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), but has been customised by the OU especially for OU research staff and students. For guidance on how to create an account on DMPOnline, watch this short video.

DMPOnline offers a range of templates for different funders and an institutional template (which is recommended when your research is not funded by an external body, or if your funder doesn’t require a DMP). Each template has guidance associated with the individual questions, written by the DCC, the OU and the funder (if applicable). You can choose to turn the DCC guidance on or off; we recommend that you keep it on because there are lots of useful hints and tips in there.

Once you’ve written your plan you can either share it (with collaborators or with the Library for review) or export it into a range of file types. One of the neat things about the tool is that it will never let you go over the page limit specified by any given funder, so you know that the format you export the plan in will always be compliant.

Why not go and check DMPOnline out for yourself? If you need any help using it, would like us to review your DMP or if you’ve used the tool and would like to give us some feedback about it, send us an email.


Planning for research data management

Yesterday, Wendy Mears and I ran a workshop on research data management for doctoral students.

We used a Data Management Plan template to discuss issues around data management and sharing, which gave attendees an opportunity to start drafting their own DMP.

As promised, the slides are uploaded here:


Training for postgraduate research students

This morning I ran a session for research students on research data management. The aim of the session was to go away with an outline of a data management plan to discuss with supervisors.

The session was well attended and generated lots of interesting discussion. Students used this template for an outline data management plan.

Slides are available on SlideShare and will also be uploaded to the VRE (Virtual Research Environment).


Have you got your licence?

I’ve recently been helping some colleagues in the Science faculty to put together a Data Management Plan for the EU funded Europlanet project (see my recent post for more information on the EU Horizon 2020 open data pilot).


CCO Data by Auke Herrema

One of the issues we have been discussing is licensing research data. Assigning a licence to the data you share is important as providing clear guidance on what re-users can do with your data helps disentangle some of the complexities and ambiguities surrounding rights (of which there are many – different jurisdictions have different laws regarding copyright on data so things can get confusing). Licensing your data is a good way of clarifying the terms of use.

When choosing a licence it is important to consider how you want your data to be reused. You can then apply a licence that most closely reflects those intended uses. Applying an explicit licence removes any ambiguity over what users can and cannot do with your data.

Lawyers can craft licences to meet specific criteria, but there are a number of open licences developed for widespread use that anyone can apply. There are many advantages to using standard licences rather than bespoke ones; as well as the benefits of enhanced organisational efficiency and cost saving, the use of standard licensing terms can lead to greater interoperability of data and increased user awareness of the licence terms, thereby enabling better compliance.


Click to enlarge

The recommended licence type for data created/collected in Horizon 2020 projects is Creative Commons (although other options are available – see links below for more information). Creative Commons licences offer a sort of “pick and mix” approach, meaning that you can assign a variety of different conditions on reuse of your data to make the terms of reuse more or less open, as needed. Creative Commons licences are widely used and understood, so they are a good option for making the terms of use for your data more transparent to users.

For more information, check out the following links:

For help understanding issues surrounding licensing research data, email