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What is a data management plan?

A data management plan is a tool for managing research data. It describes how data will be managed during a research project and after project completion. The purpose of a data management plan is to evaluate different aspects of the handling and managing of research data, from data collection/generation, processing, analyses, documentation, storage and data sharing. A data management plan will contribute to a legal, structured and safe handling and storing of data. It makes sure that research data can be reused and understood in the future.

A data management plan helps you prepare and develop strategies for the following issues:

Reuse existing data

Have you checked if there are any existing data sources that are relevant to the project? Will it be necessary to collect new data?


Which information will you collect and how? What methods will be used to collect, process, verify and validate data?

Format and types of data

What kind of data wll you collect? In which formats will the data be generated, maintained and made available? Will the formats accomodate for sharing and long-term storage? NSD has compiled a list of preferred file formats.


Are your data self explanatory (i.e. through the variable names, codes, and abbreviations used)? Make sure that you provide metadata at project level, dataset level and variable level. See NSD's documentation guide (in Norwegian) for more information.

Organising data

Think about how to you name and organize your files, folders and any other records that are used during the project. How do you distinguish between different versions? Be consistent in naming procedures and keep track of versions and updates.

Storage and backup

Do you have a plan for how data will be stored and backed up during the project?


Who will be in charge of, and responsible for, data management during the research project? Who will act as a contact person for questions regarding the data?

Intellectual Property Rights

Are there any issues connected to the intellectual property rights of the data? Is there a shared copyright? The proprietor may be both a person and/or an institution (or an institutional sub-unit).

Access and Sharing

Have you set up a time schedule for sharing and publishing data? Consider whether an embargo period is required and whether the data will be openly available or available to specific user groups only.

Archiving and Conservation

How do you plan to ensure long-term archiving and preservation of data? NSD offers long-term, secure storage of all machine-readable research data.

Ethics and Privacy

How do you plan to obtain informed consent and ensure confidentiality? Which ethical issues may appear? Is it necessary to anonymise data during research and/or before data can be shared? If NSD is to archive person identifiable data , the data owner must document that they are allowed to keep the data in accordance with current data protection regulations. In some cases NSD may assist in the anonymisation of data.



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