Why Your Project Needs a Data Management Plan

Updated: Nov 3

Data Management Plans (DMPs) are a key element of project management in grant funded projects – they describe the life cycle for all data to be collected, processed, and generated by any Horizon Europe project, while adhering to FAIR guidelines.


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The Data Management Plan (DMP) outlines the ways in which data is collected, generated and/or processed throughout the lifespan of a research project. As part of the European Commission’s goal to advance Open Science policy and practices, it is a mandatory component in Horizon Europe that all projects involving data include a DMP. Practically speaking, an initial DMP should be presented in the proposal, with funded projects requiring a detailed DMP as a mandatory deliverable within six months from the grant signature date.


Below is a quick and easy-to-read guide summarizing the importance of DMPs, the main aspects that should be covered by them, and how Linq Consulting can help create and manage a successful DMP for your project.


FAIR Data Principles


Firstly, before establishing the importance of DMPs, it is necessary to establish the importance of making research data findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable (FAIR). To this end, all DMPs should include information on:

  • Handling research data during and after the end of the project

  • What data will be collected, processed and/or generated

  • Which methodologies and standards will be applied

  • Whether data will be shared, made open access, or exploited

  • How data will be curated and preserved (including after the end of the project)

Why is it important to have a DMP?


Although the name may suggest that the purpose of the DMP is to technically describe the way data will be handled, its actual purpose is to ensure the availability and utility of the project’s research data. The plan outlines the measures that will be taken in order to maximize access and re-use of the data for further purposes and applications. As such, it is important to draw up a DMP that fits the specific characteristics of your project.


Below are the components of both an initial and a comprehensive DMP, which may also help shed light on the importance of dedicating the proper time and energy to ensuring they are properly developed.


Initial Data Management Plan


A concise DMP needs to be presented as part of any Horizon Europe project’s proposal. Overall, it should briefly cover the type of data/research outputs, the compliance with the FAIR data principles, and the way in which data will be stored and preserved. The following should be included:


  1. Data summary – The types of data that will be used in the project; estimated size of the data; origins of the data

  2. FAIR management of data – How the project will comply with the FAIR data principles (as described in greater detail under the comprehensive DMP section below)

  3. Curation and storage/preservation costs – Estimated curation and storage costs

Comprehensive Data Management Plan


As stated above, successfully funded projects must provide a comprehensive DMP within six months from the project’s official start date. The comprehensive version of the plan should refer to the same aspects covered in the initial version from the proposal, but in a more detailed and exhaustive manner. Additionally, the resources allocation for data management and any relevant ethical or security issues should be addressed in this version. The plan is expected to be updated and adjusted regularly, in line with the progress of the project. In this context, the following aspects should be explained:


  1. Data summary – This section should generally describe the data that will be used in the project. This includes the type and format, purpose, size, and finally origin of the data. If existing data is re-used throughout the project, this should be stated along with the purpose of re-using it. In addition, the potential of the data to be used outside of the project should also be explained.

  2. FAIR principles – This section of the DMP should present the measures to ensure the data are:

  3. Findable – Including any identifiers, keywords, metadata standards and other practices that will optimize the potential of finding and re-using the data.

  4. Accessible – First, details on the repository in which the data will be deposited should be given. Second, the access to the data itself, including open access protocols and restrictions aspects. Third, issues relating to metadata accessibility and availability should be described. In the case of certain data or metadata that will not be shared, proper justification should be provided.

  5. Interoperable – The vocabularies, standards, formats or methodologies that will be used to enable data exchange, re-use and interoperability are described.

  6. Reusable – This sub-section should provide information on the expected documentation (e.g., explaining the methodology, codebooks, variables) that is to be provided with data sets.

  7. Allocation of resources – This section should include a discussion on the resources, such as costs associated with compliance to the FAIR principles and who will be responsible for data management.

  8. Data security – Aspects that should be referred to in this section include provisions ensuring security of the data, including its storage and recovery.

  9. Ethical aspects – Any ethical or legal issues that can have an impact on data sharing should be presented. Additionally, when the research uses personal data, aspects such as informed consent procedures or long-term preservation should be referred to.

  10. Other issues – If other procedures or practices of data management are relevant to the project, they should be presented in this section.


Further support for creating and managing a Data Management Plan


Linq Consulting specializes in all areas of creating and managing successful proposals, including both the initial and comprehensive DMPs. Our team of expert researchers, writers, and project managers can help with all aspects of obtaining grant funding.


Whether it is managing the required periodic reporting, knowing how to fill in reporting tables for publications, or ensuring deliverables are of high quality before being uploaded to the grant management system of the Horizon Europe portal, we can help get your project ready for the final review.


For more information on how we can help, get in touch with us at info@linq-consulting.com


Be sure to follow us on Twitter @linq-consulting and connect with us on LinkedIn as well.

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