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Research Data Management Guide: Your data management plan

This guide aims to provide information and resources to support best practice in managing research data at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

This page...

This page provides information about creating a research data management plan. The subpages provide information on:

What is research data?

What is research data?

Research data is any physical and/or digital materials that are used in research activity to sustain scholarly conclusions or the production of creative works.

What form may data take?

Data may be numerical, descriptive or visual.  Data may be raw or analysed, experiemental or observational, confidential or publicly accessible.

What could be considered research data?

Research data can include laboratory notebooks, field notebooks, primary research data (including research data in hard copy or computer readable form), questionnaires, audiotapes, videotapes, models, photographs, films and test responses.

When should you create a data management plan?

Good practice for data management begins with planning at the design phase of a research project. CDU research data management policy is supported by CDU procedures that require the development of an RDM plan. A planning template is available on this page to assist researchers. From CDU Research Data Management Procedures:

All researchers and research administrators are required to develop a Research Data Management Plan at the commencement of each research project to formalise decisions relating to ownership, retention, storage and disposal of research data.

Research Data Management Plans must be kept with other research project documentation or with the primary materials and research data for the purpose of the future management of the research data. This will ensure that data can be understood during research projects, that researchers continue to understand data in the longer term and that re-users of data are able to interpret the data.

The Office of Library Services provides a Library Guide on Research Data Management to assist in planning and implementing good research data management practice throughout the research lifecycle.

As the project progresses, it is recommended that you revisit the content of the plan and update it as necessary to reflect any changes in decisions and processes.

What is a data management plan?

A data management plan is a document which describes your strategy for managing research data. It reflects your data management needs, the decisions you’ve made around data management and outlines the activities that will be associated with the data, other than the direct use of the data. It describes:

  • Data organisation
  • Data storage and backup
  • Data retention and disposal
  • Long term preservation
  • Provision for access, data sharing and reuse

When should you create a data management plan?

Good practice for data management begins with planning at the design phase of a research project.  As the project progresses, it is recommended that you revisit the content of the plan and update it as necessary to reflect any changes in decisions and processes.

What should a data management plan cover?

The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) has created an introductory guide to data management planning, the main points it recommends covering in your plan are:

  • Survey of existing data: What existing data will need to be managed?
  • Data to be created: What data will your project create?
  • Data owners and stakeholders: Who will own the data created, and who would be interested in it?
  • File formats: What file formats will you use for your data?
  • Metadata: What metadata will you keep? What format or standard will you follow?
  • Access and security: Who will have access to your data? If the data is sensitive, how will you protect it from unauthorised access?
  • Data organisation: How will you name your data files? How will you organise your data into folders? How will you manage transfers and synchronisation of data between different machines? How will you manage collaborative writing with your colleagues? How will you keep track of the different versions of your data files and documents?
  • Storage: Where will your data be stored? Who will pay for the hardware? Who will manage it?
  • Backups: Hard drives on desktop and laptop computers fail regularly. You must have a credible backup strategy of regular backups, and of course you must then follow it. Consider including an off-site backup so that your data will not be lost if your building burns down. Rather than relying on memory, consider an automated backup process.
  • Bibliography management: What bibliography management tools will you use? How will you share references with the other members of your group?
  • Data sharing, publishing and archiving: What data will you share with others? How will you do this?
  • Disposal: What data will you dispose of? When? How?
  • Responsibilities: Who will be responsible for each of the items in this plan?
  • Budget: What will this plan cost? Possible costs include hardware for backups, research assistant time for data curation, metadata creation, archiving etc.
  • Anything else: Don't restrict yourself to the items above. Stop and think. What is missing from this list? (And if you think of something, please let us know so that we can include it in the next version of this document.)


CDU Research Data Management Plan Template

The template is designed to assist researchers meet best practice research data management. The template is closely tied to the policies and requirements of the following:  


Related resources

Checklists and templates that other Australian universities have created about how to develop and create a data plan:

The University of Melbourne Research Data Management Plan Checklist and Template

The Digital Curation Centre's 'How to develop a Data Management and Sharing Plan'

Contact us

Jayshree Mamtora - Research Services Coordinator

Phone: (08) 8946 6541

Address: Level 2, Casuarina Campus Library


Charles Darwin University acknowledges the traditional custodians across the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders both past and present.
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