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Data management for students: Planning is winning

Why make a plan?

To make your research as time-efficient, reproducible and safe as possible, it is important to carefully structure and document your research data, while taking into account all technical, organisational, structural, legal, ethical and sustainability aspects. The time invested in setting up a good data management strategy pays off when the time comes to reproduce your analysis and results. It doesn't only enable you to easily find and understand your data on your (presumable chaotic) laptop, it also enables other researchers to use the data for which you worked so hard. A Data Management Plan (DMP) is helpful in achieving these noble motives. Moreover, if you are pursuing an academic career, it is good to be aware that funders and policymakers often require researchers to make a DMP before the project receives assistance or funding.

Steps of the data management plan

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What is a data management plan?

 A data management plan (DMP) is a document written at the start of the data collection for your thesis project. It provides an overview of all aspects regarding data management during and after your research; how you will manage, describe, analyze, store, share, and preserve your data. It is a dynamic document that requires updating from time to time. Data management is best addressed in the early stages of a research project, but it is never too late to make a data management plan at a later stage. Obviously, it is helpful to discuss your data management plan with your supervisor as soon as you can.

The following document contains tips for writing a DMP for researchers of Tilburg University. However, as a student it may be valuable to you as well. For more information on planning and DMPs see also the CESSDA guide and the University of Edinburgh's MANTRA course.