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DMP: a Research Management Tool to Help You Plan Ahead

Data management plan (DMP) is a document that describes your data treatment in and after a research project. It is a useful exercise for all researchers.

Increasingly research funders require applicants to submit a data management plan (DMP) as a part of a proposal. Some universities make DMP submission a requirement for research students. These institutions often specify their DMP templates for researchers to ensure they provide information to an expected level of details.

In Hong Kong, such practice is not yet common. The Research Grants Council (RGC) specifies in its application guidelines:

“PI should assess data archive potential and opportunities for data sharing. Due additional weight will be given to an application where the applicants are willing to make research data available to others.”

Planning data management at the beginning of a project is beneficial to researchers in many ways. DMPs help us prepare for our research data collection and organization, plan for sharing and archiving, demonstrate and uphold research integrity. While researchers at HKUST are not required to write formal DMPs, we can take our time to establish the skills and practice.

What is DMP?

A DMP is a document that describes how you will treat your data during a project and what happens with the data after the project ends*. They are compiled at the beginning of a project cycle, covering areas including the kinds of data to be used, data organization and documentation, intellectual property issues, data sharing and preservation. This figure below shows the six major components of a typical DMP**; you can see some DMP examples.

When DMP is required in research grant application or student proposal submission, the documents are reviewed as part of the evaluation of the proposals. Putting aside the formal function, a well-written DMP should be a useful document that can be put to use by your research team. It is an active document that you can make reference to, and revise when needed, as your research project moves along.

How to write a DMP?

A DMP template is a good way to start. A template usually uses a list of questions to guide you through the data planning. The one at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a good example.

A convenient platform you can use to build and save DMPs is DMPonline offered by Digital Curation Centre. Creating account is free of charge. You can find many templates and guiding notes to help you build your own data plans in DMPonline. Another similar platform is DMPTool https://dmptool.org/, which share the same open source codes as DMPonline.

Library support

The Library is introducing DMP to our researchers as a research management good practice. We are in the process of making a template and a DMP building platform. In this December, we will offer DMP workshops. If you have any thoughts and questions, do talk with us in the Library Research Support team: email Kevin Ho or Gabi Wong.


* Michener, W. K. (2015). Ten simple rules for creating a good data management plan. PLoS computational biology, 11(10), e1004525.
** Jones, S. (2011). How to develop a data management and sharing plan.

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published September 26, 2019
last modified March 11, 2022

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