Many bars of various colors and widths are arranged in rows to represent a whole data set.

Librarian delivers workshop on NSF data management plans

Head-and-shoulder portrait of a man with grey hair and a full beard and mustache. He is wearing silver metal-framed glasses and a blue plaid button-down shirt.
Numeric and Spatial Data Services Librarian Eric Johnson led an October 21 workshop on NSF data management plans for Miami faculty.

As part of the NSF workshop series hosted by OARS, University Libraries Numeric and Spatial Data Services Librarian Eric Johnson presented information on the importance of data management to attendees at an October 21 session.

“Data Management is consciously planning each step of the data lifecycle,” Johnson explained. Specifically, he said, data management involves the creation of data, the use of data, determining how data will be stored, and who will have access to the data.

Data management is important not only because investigators don’t want this product of their hard work to become forgotten, lost, or inaccessible, but also because making data available after publication allows other researchers to use it to make additional discoveries. In addition, there is a federal mandate for public access to data generated from research funded with federal dollars.

Johnson said it is important for investigators to decide who will be responsible for the data every step of the way. For instance, if a student collects data, what happens to that data once the student has graduated? Who can access that data and will it be understandable? Johnson also said plans should be made for who will be in charge of – and have access to – the device or devices where the data is stored.

Overall, Johnson said, a sound data management plan answers the following questions:

  • What type of data will be collected?
  • Who has responsibility for the data at each step?
  • How and when will data be backed up?
  • How will investigators gain access to the data?
  • How will others discover the data?
  • Where will the data be stored after the project ends?
  • Will the data be available in multiple formats? Will it be open-source? Can it be migrated to new formats in the future?
  • Do special precautions need to be put into place to protect sensitive data?

For the benefit of Miami’s researchers, University Libraries subscribes to the University of California Curation Center’s Data Management Planning (DMP) tool. By signing in with their Miami credentials, investigators have free online access to templates for constructing data management plans, custom guidance for different types of grant applications, and sample plans. In addition to helping investigators create data management plans, the DMP also allows them to upload their plans for review by Johnson and colleagues (given sufficient time).

Johnson’s contact information and a link to the DMP are available on the OARS website. Additional data management plan workshops are planned for winter term and early summer term.

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.

Data set image by Fernanda B. Viegas via Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license.  Photo of Eric Johnson by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.

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