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Research Data Management - Research Guide


Data Management Plans

Why is data management planning important?
It is good research practice to manage your research data and this begins with planning. Data that you create, compile or collect during your research is a valuable asset that needs to be cared for over long periods of time. Planning at the start of a new research project will save time and resources. Funding bodies, government and research institutions, and publishers may require researchers to provide details of their data management plan or to share their data, and this may be mandated in the future.

Creating a data management plan will also:

  • Document your research data management activities
  • Identify areas of potential difficulty or conflict that need to be resolved with your supervisor or chief investigator
  • Identify data management services and tools available and outline how to access them

What is a data management plan?
A data management plan is a document that describes the data that will be created, the policies that will apply to the data, who will own and have access to the data, the data management practices that will be used, the facilities and equipment that will be required, and who will be responsible for each of these activities.

What should be included in a data management plan?
A data management plan should consider the following:

Project information The data to be generated or collected during the research project and who is responsible for the collection and management of the data, as well as documentation and metadata.

Intellectual property

Ownership, copyright and intellectual property in relation to the data.
File formats and standards The volume of data may need to be considered.
Storage and backup The storage of both digital and physical data during the project.
Sharing and reuse Confidentiality and privacy requirements in relation to the data and any ethical requirements.
Retention, archiving and disposal The retention period for the data, post-project storage, and access to and re-use of the data including potential repository and archival storage.
Repurposed data Sourcing and managing data used but not created by the project.
RDM plan and your discipline How can your RDM plan be adapted, where necessary, to the requirements of a specific discipline?


When creating your data plan, remember the FAIR data principles.

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) website has further information on data management plans, as well as links to examples of plans from other research institutions.

Data Ethics

If you plan to carry out research with people, then you need to have human ethics approval before you start to collect data or recruit participants.

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) provides advice on issues to consider when working with sensitive data. Relevant issues include:

  • If you plan to share the data, make sure you get informed consent for this from the research participants
  • Protect the participants by de-identifying the data
  • Provide appropriate levels of control for access to the data
  • Apply for an appropriate license after the data is de-identified

Informed consent for research participants requires the explanation of all processes used to protect research participants, including:

  • The steps taken to ensure anonymity of data
  • How and where the data will be shared

Data Ownership and Licensing

Ownership of research data generated by your project should be determined prior to the commencement of the project, as future preservation, deposit and reuse will be directly affected by the intellectual property (IP) rights of your research data.

Data ownership should be documented in your research data management plan

Ownership can be difficult to determine when the research involves multiple researchers, externally sourced data, and funding or contractual agreements. Ownership is also affected by:

  • the commercial potential of the research data
  • whether the research data is acquired through organisational collaborations
  • researcher status

To ascertain ownership of the data generated by your research project, you may need to check with your supervisor, primary investigator or the University.

If you have ownership and you do not license your research data, no-one else can legally use it. The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) Licensing and copyright for data reuse page is a useful source of licensing information. For more in-depth information on licencing and permission, see the ARDC Research Data Rights Management Guide