MIT Libraries

Data Management and Publishing


Data Management Plans

What should be included in a data management plan? Funding agencies, e.g., the National Science Foundation (NSF), may have specific requirements for plan content. See also: writing an NSF data management plan.

Otherwise, there are fundamental data management issues that apply to most disciplines, formats, and projects. And keep in mind that a data management plan will help you to properly manage your data for own use, not only to meet a funder requirement or enable data sharing in the future. Generally, a plan should contain several important components:

Recommended Components

  • Description of the project: e.g., purpose of the research, organizations and staff involved
  • Description of the data to be collected: e.g., the nature and format of the data, how it will be collected, and overview of secondary data available on the topic
  • Standards to be applied for formats, metadata, etc.
  • Plans for short-term storage and data management: e.g., file formats, local storage and back up procedures, and security
  • Legal and ethical issues: e.g., intellectual property, confidentiality of study participants
  • Access policies and provisions: i.e., how will you make it available to others, any restrictions needed, etc.
  • Provisions for long-term archiving and preservation: e.g., in a data archive
  • Assigned data management responsibilities: i.e., which persons will actually be responsible for ensuring data management; how will compliance with this plan be monitored and ensured over time?
  • For a more complete list of things that you want to consider in managing your data, see the data planning checklist.

Resources for Creating Plans

The resources below serve as good general models for any project (even if they were created for particular programs or funders):

Resources for Reviewing Plans

Are you a grant reviewer being asked to evaluate a researcher's data management plan? Get guidance from the Johns Hopkins Grant Reviewer’s Guide.

For More Help

Need help creating your data management plan? Contact us at




For advice on a data management project, contact:


For help on a data management project, contact:

Text licensed under Creative Commons, unless otherwise noted. All other media all rights reserved unless otherwise noted.