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What is a data management plan?

A data management plan (DMP) is a document describing how the research data generated in your research project will be handled from the time your project starts until it ends.

It is a living document that follows the research project and specifies what kind of data will be generated, how the data will be described, where the data will be stored, and whether and how they can be shared.

Why make a DMP?

The purpose of a DMP is to plan how to safeguard the research data, not just during the project period, but also for future reuse of the data. A DMP can also help you to plan how to cover data management and storage costs.

Data quality

The Research Council stipulates that the international FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) must be followed. These principles are a set of guidelines that show how to facilitate reuse of research data. In line with these principles, research data must be of quality that makes them accessible, findable and reusable. The concept interoperable entails that both data and metadata must be machine-readable and that a consistent terminology is used.

DMP tools

There are several providers of tools that generate data management plans for research projects. The solutions make it possible to update the data management plan during the project period. Here are examples of tools for generating data management plans that exist today:

Who has the responsibility for the quality and content of the DMP?

For all projects that receive funding from the Research Council, the R&D-performing institutions or companies should assess whether projects must develop a data management plan.

  • If the project manager decides that a data management plan is necessary, the project will draw up a plan in accordance with the institution's own guidelines. This plan must be delivered at the time of the revision of the application.
  • When the final report of the project is to be submitted, the Research Council will request a final version of the data management plan. The project will not be asked to report on revisions of the plan during the project period.
  • If the project manager decides that the project does not need a data management plan, an explanation for this must be provided when submitting the revised application.
  • As far as possible, data management plans should be made public and openly accessible by the research-performing institution to enable scientific groups to follow peer practice.

Potential content of a data management plan

Sample template for digital research data


    What should be addressed  The Research Councils' guidelines
1 Responsibility Who will be responsible for data management? Who will be the contact person for questions regarding the research data?  
2 Data collection  What kind of information will be collected and how? Are there existing data that may be reused for this purpose? What kind of methods will be used to collect, process, check and validate the data?  
3 Format In what formats will the data be generated, stored and made available? Do the file formats follow field specific standards? Can the data be read and used with standard software and tools? Will the chosen formats enable sharing and long-term storage of the data? Research data must be made available for reuse. Research data must be made accessible to all relevant users, on equal terms, as long as there are no legal, ethical or security-related reasons to preclude this.
4 Metadata Are your structured data self-explanatory (based on the applied names, labels and codes)?  Are there relevant metadata standards that can be used? The metadata on project-, dataset- and variable levels should be provided. Research data must be accompanied by standardised metadata. The metadata must enable others to search for and use the data. The metadata should follow international standards. The metadata should describe the quality of the data.

Organising data

Describe how you are planning to label and organise your data, registries and files during the project. Is it possible to use digital object identifier (DOI) for labelling the dataset? How will the data be managed and how will you keep track of different versions if the data is stored several places? BIBSYS provides DOIs from DataCite 

Storing and backup

How will the data be stored and backed-up during the project? What kind of storage and back-up policies does the host institution(s) have? Do you need to take special measures regarding safe storage of sensitive data? The data must be stored in secure archives, either in a trusted repository at the relevant institution or in national archives. The research-performing institution is responsible for selecting relevant archiving solutions for the various research data in accordance with the FAIR Principles. The projects should explicitly address how to manage research data that are considered to have long-term value. The projects should explicitly address how research data that are not considered to have long-term value should be managed, or if relevant destroyed, after a certain period of time.
7 Archiving and preservation How are you planning to secure long-term data storage and preservation? How will expenses for long-term storage be covered? Research data should be made accessible at the lowest possible cost. Metadata should be made accessible at no charge and be published so that they may be harvested and used in research data searches. Research data should preferably be made accessible at no charge. The price of access to research data should never be higher than the actual costs of making them available.

Access and sharing

Do you have a plan for sharing and publishing the data (access conditions, restrictions, embargoes etc.)?

Research data should be made accessible at an early stage. The data used as the basis for scientific articles should be made accessible as soon as possible, and never later than at the time of publication. Other data that may be of interest for other research should be made accessible within a reasonable amount of time, and never later than three years after the project has ended.

Research data should be made available at the lowest possible cost (see 11 below) 


Intellectual rights

Have you decided who should own the intellectual rights to the data? Could shared rights be appropriate? The copyright-holder could be either a person and/or an institution/unit. Are there any copyright restrictions in relation to the data collection? Did you use any copyrighted data collection instruments? What type of licenses will be used?

Research data must be provided with a license for access, reuse and redistribution. The license should be internationally recognised. The license should set as few restrictions as possible on the access, reuse and redistribution of the data.

More about licences

Ethics and data protection

How are you going to collect informed consent and secure confidentiality? Are there any other ethical issues that might occur? Will you be collecting personal data? Is it necessary to anonymise the data during the study or before the data can be shared?

The Research Council’s policy follows an open-by-default principle regarding access to research data. The Research Council will therefore help to ensure that research data in general are made openly accessible, but that exceptions are made for data that cannot or should not be openly accessible. (see exceptions in “Principles and guidelines in the Research Council policy”).


Describe the project costs for data storage and costs for making the data accessible. 

Costs associated with making research data generated in the project accessible may be included in the grant application when these are defined as necessary costs «other operating expenses».