Friday, 28 May 2010

The DCC´s Data Management Planning Tool

The Digital Curation Centre has developed a web-based data management planning tool to assist with the preparation of basic Data Management Plans (DMP) at the funding application stage as well as to help building and maintain a more detailed DMP during the project's lifetime.

Back in July 2009, the EIDCSR project responded to the proposed DCC Data Management Plan Content Checklist. This test version of the DMP tool seems to have taken into account the comments made:
  • The objective of the tool i.e. assisting with the production and maintenance of DMPs is clear and pertinent.
  • The plans can be exported into PDF and HTML so they can easily be included in funding applications, websites, etc. Moreover, the plans incorporate the DMP Online logo showing that the tool has been used which should show the evaluators that the creators have taken the time and interest to use this tool.
  • The plans can be easily edited and adjusted as required if circumstances change. This makes the DMPs a living document helping to ensure its usefulness throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Some other aspects are still unclear or could be enhanced:
  • In terms of encouraging researchers to use the tool, is there any effort towards convincing RCUKs to recommend their bidders using it?
  • It is still unclear whether the DMP team provides support for using the tool only or they can also help with the preparation of the DMPS. In cases where there data centres are in place, some might already provide this support and therefore this could be included in the guidance element of the tool.
  • Some of the information collected in the DMPs can be of great help to later on the lifecycle document the datasets that will be produced. Hence it would be convenient if these data could be exported into more reusable formats.
  • Creating a data management plan from scratch can be an arduous task that could be eased off by providing examples of plans in particular areas that can help guiding and inspiring those creating new ones.
  • In some cases researchers will want to create a DMP without necessarily having, or planning to have, funding from one of the research councils in the UK. This does not seem to be possible with this tool at the moment. A generic DMP that is not specific to any funding agency could be extremely useful.

Overall, this test version of the DCC´s Data Management Planning tool is shaping up nicely and there is a clear need for it. Bringing together the RCUK statements on data management, the DCC´s generic DMP clauses and guidance from a variety of reputable sources can help researchers immensely.

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