Information Management: Data Management Plans

IM Guide » Before Research Begins » Data Management Plans

Much of the information provided on this page comes from NSF guidelines for data management plans. These guidelines are cited here via footnotes and users are referred to source material for further information. In general, data management plans should be short, no more than two pages, and will be submitted as a supplementary document to any NSF-funded proposal or any proposal involving Coweeta LTER support. At the NSF, the plan will thus not count towards the 15 page limit for proposals. Proposers who feel that the plan cannot fit within the supplement limit of two pages may use part of the 15-page Project Description for additional data management information. Proposers are advised that the Data Management Plan may not be used to circumvent the 15-page Project Description limitation. [1]

Below is a template that provides 1) guidelines for researcher generated text and 2) boilerplate text generated by CWT LTER that should be included in every Data Management Plan. Note that this section still requires some researcher input and therefore should not be copied and pasted without carefully reading first.

1) The following text should be generated by the researcher and is specific to each research project [2]

  • Description of data to be collected- Describe the type of data (e.g. counts of fish, pH measures), the instrument or collection approach (e.g. visual count, recorded on paper), and the sampling design (e.g. number of plots, sampling frequency). If actual data are interpreted, note the interpretation (e.g. impedance interpreted as soil moisture). Describe any quality control measures and how the data will be transmitted from field or instrument to institution.
  • Analysis- Describe any descriptive or analytical statistics that will be run against the data for quality assurance, derivation, aggregation, etc. Mention the names of analytical packages (e.g., SAS, SPSS, MatLab).
  • Products- Describe the data or other products that you will be making available from the study. These may or may not be the raw data described in step 1.

2) The following text was generated by CWT LTER IM and details general policies applicable to all research projects. This text should be copied verbatim, with the exception of text in brackets, which indicates that the researcher must choose from multiple options or generate their own text.

In accordance with CWT LTER Data Management Policy, all data and metadata for this research project will be archived with the IM within [CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING]

  • 6 months of the completion of each field season
  • 6 months after the completion of [analysis and/or post processing], estimated to take _____ months.

Metadata for each field season will be generated using the standardized CWT LTER Metadata Form (see attached). These data and metadata will be stored on both the Coweeta LTER File Server and, when ready to be made publicly available, the Coweeta LTER web server. The Coweeta LTER file server and web server are both housed on redundant, RAID 5 disk arrays located in Room 151 of Baldwin Hall on the University of Georgia Campus. These resources are backed up nightly using an automated product (bacula) that copies any changes to another RAID 5 array located in the Curation Vault of the University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology . This offsite backup is located over one mile from Baldwin Hall and is served by different electrical and network trunks. Data will be made available to the public [CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING]

  • Within two years of completion of the study, which will last for ____ field seasons (for PIs)
  • Within two years of graduation in the year [enter projected graduation date] (for graduate students)

The Information Manager will publish this data on the CWT LTER website within ____ months after the end of the final field season, by [insert date].

[If the study contains sensitive data that would be inappropriate to release (see types of data), describe nature of the data and why the data need to remain private.]

The public will be able to access this data through the CWT LTER website after registering with complete contact information on the CWT LTER website and agreeing to a Data Use Agreement.


[2] Quoted from  “How to write a Data Management Plan”, by James Brunt, LNO Associate Director.