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Research data management: Planning and data publishing

Data management plans

It's a good idea to make a plan for the collection, documentation, storage, security, preservation, and access of your research data at the beginning of your project. Some research funders require you to submit such a plan as part of grant applications.

The Data Management Plan (DMP) Assistant is a tool created by the Portage Network to help you organize and document your plans for your research data. Simply create an account, start a new project, and provide responses to questions around your intentions for your data. Once you've completed the outline, a final DMP can be exported and appended to a grant application and/or shared with your research team. 

Data publication requirements

It is becoming increasingly common for funding agencies and publishers to require that researchers make their data openly available. Take a close look at the policies of intended publications or granting agencies at the beginning of your research project for open data requirements. 

Some notable funding agencies and publishers with open data policies:

  • Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management
    • The Tri-Agency states that publicly funded research data should be open
    • Some CIHR and SSHRC grants require that research data be published in an open repository. Expect these policies to be broadened in the near future
  • Public Library of Science (PLOS)
    •  PLOS requires all authors publishing in its journals to make their data open
  • Genome Canada
    • All funding recipients are expected to make research data open
  • SpringerNature
    • Uses four policies on data sharing ranging from open data encouragement to requirement
  • Science
    • Requires authors to deposit data in a repository before publication
  • National Institutes of Health
    • Requires grant recipients to make data openly available when possible. Applications for grants larger the $500,000 require submission of a plan for data sharing

Making your data open

If you are required to make your research data open, check with the publisher or granting agency to determine if they have preferred repositories or restrictions on methods of publication. Most organizations are flexible, allowing deposit in any repository that is publicly accessible. 

Three common places to publish your data are:

  • Subject repositories
    • These are usually managed by an association within a particular discipline and tend to contain data within very narrow disciplinary categories
  • Multidisciplinary repositories
    • There are numerous large multidisciplinary repositories that accept data within broader disciplinary categories (e.g. Dryad, Figshare)
    • Many research universities now have research data repositories that accept data from all local disciplines. Data can often be published as supplementary material to other outputs (e.g. peer-reviewed articles) in other institutional repositories
  • Journal websites
    • Journals increasingly require or allow authors to include large datasets as supplementary materials to published articles
    • Sometimes these supplementary materials aren't included in library databases. If you'd like to track down data associated with a journal article, check the journal's website directly (or contact your librarian)