Data management plans

About data management plans (DMPs)

A data management plan (DMP) is a written document that describes the data you expect to acquire or generate during the course of a research project, how you will manage, describe, analyze, and store those data, and what mechanisms you will use at the end of your project to share and preserve your data.

You may have already considered some or all of these issues with regard to your research project, but writing them down helps you formalize the process, identify weaknesses in your plan, and provide you with a record of what you intend(ed) to do.

Data management is best addressed in the early stages of a research project, but it is never too late to develop a data management plan.

A DMP is a living document

Editing a document, image by Nic McPhee CC BY-SA-2.0

Research is all about discovery, and the process of doing research sometimes requires you to shift gears and revise your intended path. Your DMP is a living document that you may need to alter as the course of your research changes. Remember that any time your research plans change, you should review your DMP to make sure that it still meets your needs.


Funding agency requirements

Checklist, image by AJ Cann

Many funding agencies require a DMP with every funding request. Each agency or directorate creates its own set of policies for data management. Consult the documents below to find out what you will need to include in the DMP for your research proposal.

NIH: NIH Data Sharing Policy and Implementation Guidance
NSF: Data Management Policies and FAQ on Data Management and Sharing 
NOAA: Data Sharing for NOAA Grants Procedural Directives
NEH-ODH: Data Management Plans (pdf)
Institute of Education Sciences: Data Sharing Implementation Guide
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Data Sharing Philosophy and Data Sharing and Management Plans (pdf)

You can also consult the list of funder requirements at the California Digital Library, or check out the section below with sample agency-specific plans.

Creating a data management plan

Preparing to write a DMP

Before you sit down to write your DMP, you may want to do a little thinking. The following documents provide guidance on the types of issues you may need to consider as you begin the process of writing your DMP.

Tapping a pencil, image by Rennett Stowe

Online tool for creating a DMP

Stanford University Libraries has partnered with the California Digital Library to provide you access to the online Data Management Planning (DMP) Tool. The DMPTool includes a wealth of information and assistance to guide you through the process of creating a ready-to-use DMP for your specific research project and funding agency, including the following:

DMPTool logo, California Digital Libraries

  • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), including many individual directorates

 Visit the DMPTool page to find out more about the tool and how to log on. 

Sample agency-specific plans

Plan sign, image by Flickr user john.d.mcdonald


FAQ stencil, photo by Flickr user a_kep

Questions about writing a data management plan? Visit our FAQ.

DMP wokshop

We can come to your group for a workshop on how to use the DMPTool. Read more details on our events page.

DMP review

Data services staff are happy to assist you with your data management plan. Contact us for more details.

DMP submission

Once your data management plan is complete, you will include it with the rest of your proposal to the funding agency. Stanford's Dean of Research's Office has further information on proposal development and submission