The University of Nottingham has a recently updated Research Data Management policy and this policy now requires every researcher to have a DMP before they collect any data. We don’t require that researchers use DMPOnline for this, but we do suggest it as a good entry point, particularly for those who haven’t written a DMP before.
Being told that they need to create a multipage document with specific details about how they're going to manage data from creation through analysis to publication can be fairly daunting for a researcher. Anyone who supports researchers is probably aware that they are often writing grants right up to the deadline, and that the DMP can often be left to last. For those who have not had to think carefully about data management before, the DMP can seem like another administrative add-on and can be relegated to the “not very important pile”. However, I firmly believe that while you’re not going to win a grant based on a DMP alone, it’s quite possible to lose one through it. A badly written DMP can make it look to the reviewer like the researcher hasn’t thought carefully about how they’re going to carry out their project and how they’re going to make sure that it’s feasible. And those are not impressions that are going to help the project score highly.
From a research support position it's easy to start providing information - templates, writing guidance, marking rubrics etc. but this can quickly become overwhelming to the researcher. What would be more useful is a one stop shop which can help the researcher get started. This is where DMPOnline comes in at UoN.
DMPOnline is a really useful resource for researchers who already have experience in writing a DMP, and we have a number of repeat users. However, we're finding that it really comes into its own when helping researchers write a DMP for the very first time. DMPOnline provides us with a single point of entry for a researcher. Finding the right template is fairly fool proof, as long as they know which funder they're interested in, and then all the advice, some from DCC, some created in-house is provided alongside each section. It's not overwhelming because the user only ever sees a small section of it at a time.
We’ve recently switched on the button to allow researchers to send their DMPs straight from DMPOnline to the Library’s review service, and are getting some traction there. We hope that by making the process easier and streamlined researchers will ask for help, and find that as a result, they’re submitting better Data Management Plans.
We would like to say thank you to Beth Montague-Hellen for sharing this blog post with us. If you would like to get involved in our knowledge exchange and share a story from your institution please do get in touch with us.