Preparing for a Data Rich Research Project

This page authored by Paula Lackie, Academic Technologies: Data and Research Methods Support, Carleton College.
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This material was developed as part of the Carleton Teaching Activity Collection and is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


The NSF, among other granting agencies, now requires a thorough Data Management Plan (DMP.) This document should help people think through the variety of issues surrounding the data management aspect of their project as it is embedded in the larger research project management plan. A DMP is also advisable for anyone developing a data-rich research project. The document will be most useful for researchers collaborating across disciplines and/or seeking assistance or services from support organizations within their institution.

The document is not designed to address every possible issue which might arise with different sorts of data needs. Rather, it is meant to provide a useful overview of data management in a data-rich research project.

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Learning Goals

This document should help any project manager or PI become sensitized to the variety of issues surrounding the management of the data resulting from a research project.
  1. It should help this person identify and plan for all components of a research data plan before they are encountered.
  2. It should also help them to anticipate and better plan for routine issues that invariably crop up (such as equipment maintenance, scheduling access to specific equipment, servers or backups)
  3. It should clarify communication among all team members regarding explicitly verifying communication on such basic items as data, backup, archive, database mean in the context of their shared project.
  4. It should also define which person is responsible for which aspects of the project.

Context for Use

Description and Teaching Materials

Teaching Notes and Tips

The document is designed to help planners identify and address potential gaps in their research project management plan. It pays special attention to issues with data management.

To successfully use the document, the PIs will likely benefit from coordinating with their IT department, academic technologist/s or research data resources office in addition to any data support professionals* on their campus.

*Data support professionals are becoming recognized as being in a specific profession although routes to this career are still quite diverse. For this reason, finding offices which do this support and/or people with these skills may take some searching. It is common for research data services to be housed in the library, but you may also find support in a discipline-specific area such as with a social sciences data services office. Do consider support from outside of the specific research discipline area when seeking out data-support professionals.


References and Resources