Before You Begin

There are lots of decisions to make before you start to create your data. Making these choices early on in your project can save you time and effort later, and many funders now expect you to show you’ve engaged in data planning.  The decisions will affect how you can access, use and look after your data.

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Data Planning

Writing a data management and sharing plan involves making decisions at the outset of your research to decide which software to use; how to organise, store and manage your data; and what to include in the consent agreements you negotiate.

These will all affect what is possible to do with your data in the future.

What do research funders expect?

Most funders expect a short data planning statement to be submitted with your grant proposal, outlining your plans for data management and data sharing.

You will usually be asked to cover five themes:

  1. What data will be created?
  2. How will the data be documented and described?
  3. How you will manage ethics and IPR?
  4. What are the plans for data sharing and access?
  5. What is the strategy for long-term preservation and sustainability?

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) has collated specific details of UK research funders' data management plan requirements

The DCC also provides DMP Online, a web-based tool to help you write your data plan and has other resources to assist in writing data management plans.

Including RDM Activities in Funding Applications

See Research Data Management Costs.

Further reading

DCC, Details of research funders’ data management plan requirements [WEB, 1 page approx]
An overview to UK funders' requirements for data management and sharing plans by the Digital Curation Centre.

ICPSR Framework for creating a Data Management Plan [WEB, 3 pages approx]
Guidance of what to include in plans with useful example texts.

DCC, Data plan guidance and examples [WEB, 1 page approx]
A list of various guidance resources and example data management plans.

Who can help me with data planning at the University of Glasgow?

Please get in touch early (at least a week before the deadline) so there is enough time to help.

IT Services offer backup and filestore for research projects, and your local IT team may be able to provide similar services. Please contact the IT helpdesk with your requirements. 

Data centres are also able to help, for example the UK Data Archive and NERC.

Examples of Data Management Plans

We are collecting examples of data management plans for different disciplines and funders relevant to the University of Glasgow. Click on the links below to view examples of plans.

Synthetic Chemistry - EPSRC

Drosophila Genetics - BBSRC

Trypanosome Cell Signalling - MRC

Interview data - EPSRC (this plan also includes a consideration of ethical approval).

The University of Bristol has shared an AHRC technical plan.

The University of Leeds has shared two examples of ESRC data management plans.


If you have a Data Management Plan that you would like to contribute as an example, please contact the Research Data Management team.

What to Cover in a Data Management Plan

Here are some pointers of what to include for each of the themes you're typically asked to address: 

  1. What data will be created? 
    • Note the type and volume of data that will be created, e.g., transcripts, measurements, imaging etc. 
    • Explain how you will capture the data, e.g., in a numbered, dated notebook. 
    • What formats do you propose to use and why?  E.g., Microsoft Access, Excel or SPSS, as they’re in widespread use. 
  2. How will the data be documented and described? 
    • What contextual details are needed?  E.g., a description of the capture methods and data analysis. 
    • How will you capture this?  E.g., in papers, in a database, in a ‘readme’ text file, in file properties/headers. 
    • Which standards will you use and why? E.g., refer to data centre recommendations for metadata, controlled vocabularies documentation. 
    • Are there any encoding guidelines you should follow? 
  3. How you will manage ethics and intellectual property? 
    • How will you safeguard the privacy of research participants?  E.g., by negotiating informed consent. 
    • Will there be any restrictions and why?  E.g., delays while you seek a patent, embargoes as right of first use.  
  4. What are the plans for data sharing and access? 
    • Who is expected to use the completed dataset(s) and for what purpose?   
    • How will the data be developed with future users in mind?  E.g., choose appropriate formats. 
    • How will you make the data available?  E.g., deposit in a data centre, forward copies on request, create website, publish a book. 
  5. What is the strategy for long-term preservation and sustainability? 
    • How will you store and back-up the data?  E.g., University storage with IT back-up, mirror data on partner's server. 
    • What are the plans for sustainability?  E.g., choose open standards, deposit in data centre. 
    • Which repository/data centre have you identified as a place to deposit data?  Show you've consulted them. 
    • How will you prepare data for preservation and sharing?  Show time and resource budgeted in. 

If you are applying to the Medical Research Council, they ask you to note any related policies. We have produced an MRC_Q7_policies_2018 to adapt and use in MRC (or other) applications as relevant. 

Choosing file formats and software

What should I consider when choosing formats? 

 The formats you choose will depend on: 

  • How you plan to analyse your data. 
  • What software is compatible with the hardware that you have available. 
  • Preferences between proprietary and open software. 
  • Any discipline-specific norms (and the associated peer-to-peer support that comes with them). 

You may choose certain formats during data collection and analysis but others for preservation - for example, by converting your data to standard or open formats. 

What formats do data centres expect? 

You may choose or be required to submit your data to a data centre.  They may convert your data to a preferred format for preservation. It's worth thinking how these decisions may affect your ability to access and re-use your data in the future. 
The UK Data Archive list of preferred formats gives an indication of standards to which data centres typically work. 

Further reading 

MIT Libraries, File formats for long-term access 
A concise description of formats that are useful for accessing files over time. 

UK Data Archive, Data formats table 
This table of recommended preservation formats can be consulted if your type of data is not mentioned in the above MIT guide. 

The National Archives, Selecting file formats for long-term preservation 
A fuller description of things to consider and offers an insight into how professional archivists see the issue. 

Who can help me choose file formats at the University of Glasgow? 

The most appropriate file fomats will vary by discipline so find out what is standard for your discipline.  Seek advice from colleagues and local support staff such as lab technicians and IT officers.