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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly - Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

4.7 Data management planning

In this topic, we have been discussing the requirements for good research data management. It may at first seem daunting to have to consider all these requirements in addition to doing actual research. However, many institutions now have, or are in the process of developing, their own data management plans for use by their researchers.

By undertaking a data management plan at the commencement of a project, you can ensure that all aspects of data management are holistically explored early in a project. Short- and long-term aims can be balanced, so that decisions made early in a project do not negatively impact on the ability to find and use the research data in the future.

A data management planning process is particularly important in the context of collaborative research projects. By undertaking the planning, you may identify areas of potential difficulty or conflict, and these can be resolved with your collaborators before they escalate into issues. By clarifying ownership of data and ensuring early agreement on technical standards across institutions, you are well on your way to establishing trust and ensuring that your project runs smoothly.

It is common for international funding agencies to require a formal data management plan as part of the funding application process. While this is not yet common practice in Australia, in the near future it is likely that the ARC and the NHMRC will require greater evidence of data management planning at the time of application.

There are several online resources to help you develop your own data management plan, for example:

Your data management plan is a valuable resource. You should retain a copy of the data management plan for your own records, and use it as a discussion document when talking to collaborators, services providers, and research administrators.

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