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Data and Digital Scholarship Services

Data Management Planning Overview

Data Management Planning helps document the lifecycle of the data you are working with. Data Management Plans (DMPs) provide details on data collection for storage, access, sharing, and reproducibility of your results. A good data management plan will ensure the availability and accessibility of your research results after your project is complete and you have published the results, increasing the value of your research and possible reuse by other researchers. (University of Arizona). It is important to note that a Data Management Plan is usually required by most grant funders. 

Helpful Links

DMP Tool

DMP Tool will help you make a Data Management Plan. DMP Tool is a resource that is available to all UTK students, faculty, and staff for free. DMPTool is a resource researchers can use to draft data management plans that meet funding agency requirements. DMPTool is formatted as a template to address specific aspects of managing research data including data types, ownership, description, preservation and sharing.  The tool prompts you with guidelines and questions specific to your funding agency, which will expedite drafting of plans. (University of Pennsylvania, by Lauren Phegley)

Sample DMPs from UC San Diego

These are a few examples of DMPs from different subject areas.

Tips for Writing a Data Management Plan

  1. Don't start from scratch. Use a template or checklist to keep on track.

  2. Structure layout with a paragraph per element or general topic.

  3. This isn't a narrative - be short and concise. You can use a table structure if that would be easier, especially for listing data formats. 

  4. Write a longer version if you are struggling to keep details out of it, and then go back and edit it to two pages.

  5. Contact your chosen repository to confirm that your data is a good match, if you are not required by your funder to use a particular repository. 

  6. Look at past examples with a grain of salt. They can be a good source of inspiration but there is no proof of their acceptance or review from experts on how appropriate the plans are. 

  7. Do not blindly reuse or copy and paste from DMPs! This will waste time when you need to change them later, and locks you into requirements you can't fulfil. 

Reach out to us if you have any questions about creating your DMP! Our email is

Source: University of Pennsylvania by Lauren Phegley

Writing a DMP with DMPTool

To use the DMPTool through UTK...

  •   To access DMPTool, go to this website.
  • Login to an existing account or signup using your UTK email address.
  • This will allow users to view and download DMPs from a database of plans created and shared by users associated with UTK.
    • The database can be searched using the search bar on the same page, and it can be sorted by a number of criteria including title, owner, or date updated.
  • To create a new plan, click the relevant button on the dashboard.
  • Fill out the required information for your new plan, including the title, any associated research organizations, and the primary financial funders.
  • Click to continue and create your plan.
  • Project Details: The first tab allows you to edit your Project Details.
    • Input the title of your research project
    • Include the abstract for your project (optional).
    • Include the domain/broad topic for your project (optional).
    • Input the start and dates of your project.
    • Input information about your funding.
  • Collaborators: The second tab allows you to add and manage collaborators to the plan.
  • Write Plan: The third tab allows you to write your data management plan.
    • Depending on the template that your plan is based on, this tab will have various headers where you can enter information.
    • Click on the plus sign (+) beside each header to enter relevant data in the text box provided.
  • Research Outputs: The fourth tab allows you to list anticipated research outcomes.
  • Request Feedback: The fifth tab allows you to submit a request for feedback on your plan the Data Services Team at the UTK Libraries.
    • Click to request feedback if needed. This gives the Data Services Team access to read and comment on your plan.
    • Any feedback will be provided within 3 business days through the DMPTool.
    • You can continue to edit and download your plan in the interim.
  • Finalize: The sixth tab allows you to finalize your data management plan and register for a DMP ID.
    • Set plan visibility so it can be viewed by yourself and collaborators (Private), members registered with your organization (Organization), or anyone (Public).
    • In order to set visibility, you must meet criteria listed on the tab.
    • Register for a DMP ID.
    • In order to register, you must meet the criteria listed on the tab.
  • Download: The seventh slide allows you to download your plan.
    • Select file format.
    • Adjust format settings such as font type and font size to their desired settings.
    • Click to download your plan.


Click here to find additional information about DMPTool and about data management plans.

If you need assistance with data management, please contact the Data Services Team at

Helpful Resources

ICPSR Framework for Creating a Data Management Plan

This resource contains information about recommended elements of a data management plan and includes explanations for why each element is important as well as examples of each element. 

Funding Agency Guidelines for Public Access (NC State University Libraries)

This resource contains information and data requirements from some of the main US federal agencies.

Data Management Best Practices

The best practice when starting to practice data management is to have a plan of action and create a habit. If these recommendations seem like too much, try to adopt one new good habit every month.

  • Writing a High Quality Data Management Plan
    Read your funder requirements carefully and address everything they ask you to. Then follow your plan.

  • File Organization
    Have a consistent system and make sure everyone knows it. Don't use spaces or special characters in file names.

  • Creating and Using Spreadsheets or CSV Files
    Columns are for variables, rows are for records. Label your columns and use consistent terms between records. Don't use color or leave cells blank.  

  • Collaboration
    Have roles and responsibilities clearly defined up front. Make sure you save new versions of files when changes are made. 

  • Document Your Data Using ReadMe Files, Codebooks and Data Dictionaries
    Give at least enough information that future you, a new lab member, or another researcher could make sense of your data. 

  • Security & Privacy
    Password protect and/or encrypt sensitive files. Follow Penn's guidelines for saving sensitive data on PennBox and visit SAS's pages on sensitive data and encryption.

  • Data Sharing
    Share! And share your documentation so the data is useful. Repositories are the most effective way to share. Find an appropriate repository here

  • Storing and Backing up Data
    Follow the 3-2-1 Rule: 3 copies of your data stored on 2 different types of media with 1 copy in an offsite location. Zero of these copies should be on a flash drive. Want to know more? Watch one of these videos from Explaining Computers or University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

  • Archiving Data for Preservation
    Use sustainable file formats whenever possible and migrate your data to new media every 3-5 years.

Source: University of Pennsylvania by Lauren Phegley