A group of major research institutions, including the University of New Mexico, is partnering to develop a flexible online tool to help researchers generate data management plans.  This effort is in response to demands from funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that researchers plan for managing their research data.

The partners in this project include DataONE at the University of New Mexico, the University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library, the UCLA Library, the UCSD Libraries, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Virginia Library, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the United Kingdom's Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

By joining forces, the partners expect to consolidate expertise and reduce costs in addressing data management needs.  The primary goal of the partnership is to simplify the process of creating plans while increasing the quality of decisions made by funders to pre-define policies and infrastructures that support research activities.

"This tool will streamline UC faculty's ability to produce a credible and high-quality plan for managing data," said CDL Executive Director Laine Farley. "An important consequence of that is the general raising of awareness about the services that libraries provide in data curation."

The tool for generating data management plans (DMP) will be based on DMP Online, a software tool developed by the DCC and designed to accommodate different funder requirements. This function will be tested by tailoring it to the requirements of US research funding agencies and the institutions they fund.  It will be publicly available, allowing researchers at all institutions to initiate a data management plan quickly and provide answers to various data management questions relating to their research, such as how data will be documented throughout the research project and made available for public use and potential secondary uses, how data quality will be assured, data backup procedures, and preservation plans.

The tool will also make the entire process easier, less expensive, and more consistent in moving research data management forward at the national and international levels.  It will also aid institutions in identifying associated costs and in future resource planning.  The new version of the DMP is expected to be available within the next several months.

"Research is an international activity, and data management planning is also international in scope," said Kevin Ashley, DCC director. "Funders around the world already require such plans with grant applications or as a condition of funding; many more are planning to do so. The DCC is pleased to be part of this work to develop planning tools that also have international utility and relevance."

UNM received $55 million from NSF in grant funding for Fiscal Year 2010, so the potential impact of the data management requirements on researchers is enormous.

William Michener, DataONE PI at the University of New Mexico, said "The Data Management Planning Online Tool will be a centerpiece of DataONE enabling scientists to optimize current and future use of their data and to protect their investment of time and energy in data collection and analysis. The tool will save time and make it easy to follow science best practices.  I anticipate that thousands of scientists annually will add the tool to their toolbox as they develop proposals and carry out the research."

About DataONE
The Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) is poised to be the foundation of new innovative environmental science through a distributed framework and sustainable cyberinfrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, robust, and secure access to well-described and easily discovered Earth observational data. Supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, DataONE will ensure preservation and access to multi-scale, multi-discipline, and multi-national science data.

Contact: Patricia Cruse, director, UC Curation Center
Phone: (510) 987-9016
E-mail: patricia.cruse@ucop.edu

Andrew Sallans, head, Strategic Data Initiatives
University of Virginia Library
Phone: (434) 243-2180
E-mail: als9q@virginia.edu

Local UNM contact:
Rebecca Koskela, executive director, DataONE
Office (M,W,F): (505) 814-1111
Cell & Office (T,Th):  (505) 382-0890