Data management plan: an opportunity for open science for further progress

Fecha del post: 17-01-2018

Plan de gestión de datos

The agencies that finance public and private research are interested in having the results disseminated as much as possible. For this reason, and following the philosophy of open science, the funders themselves created the demand to make open the access to the scientific publications created during an investigation. In the era of open data, this demand has been extended so, in the same way, the data that underlies the publications (research data) is disseminated and managed appropriately.

And for the data to be managed properly, planning is essential. For this reason, the funding agencies are forcing the project proposals to contain a Data Management Plan. A PGD is a formal document, normally drawn up prior to the start of the project, where the treatment of the research data collected or generated during the project is detailed.

Some of the most interesting elements that can be included in a PGD would be:

  • The list of data that will occur during the investigation and those that will be collected previously.
  • The number of the standards that will be used to generate the metadata.
  • The list of data that will be offered open, with a detailed description of them.
  • The policies of access and reuse of data, indicating how the access to data will be facilitated, for possible verification and reuse.
  • The measures to protect privacy, security, confidentiality and intellectual property, detailing how data will be preserved, or the name and type of repository where they will be deposited.

For the research staff, a PGD offers many benefits, such as:

  • Ensuring the dissemination, integrity and reproducibility of the data.
  • Preserving the data, avoiding possible losses.
  • Increasing the dissemination of the project, as well as its impact.

When ellaborating a PGD, there are several tools that have been created to facilitate this task. DMPonline, created by the Digital Curation Center (DCC), allows to edit and export the plans in a collaborative way, as well as to monitor them, in addition to having a particular template for the European H2020 projects. PaGoDA is the Spanish translation of DMPonline carried out by the Madroño Consortium. DMPTool, , developed by the University of California, allows to share, edit and export the PGD when necessary, although it does not have a template for H2020 projects.

The European financing program H2020 for research project also requests the presence of a data management plan. At the beginning of the program, it was only mandatory in the areas that were part of the Open Research Data pilot program. But since 2017, this obligation has been extended to all the thematic areas of the H2020 program, making the research data open by default. The plans are included in the technical information of the H2020 project proposals and are evaluated under the impact criterion, since with the release of data it is expected to accelerate innovation and build science on previous results, avoiding duplication of efforts, as well as as the promotion of open science.

The act of creating a data management plan benefits research in general, since it requires a prior reflection that affects the design of the experiment itself. The study of previously existing data avoids duplicating efforts and promotes collaboration with other research groups. In addition, documenting what will be the data that will generate a project gives it a point of sustainability, in the case of variations occurring in the project staff. Therefore, writing (even if the funder does not request it) a data management plan is the opportunity to prove to the funder that an investigation is viable.