Author: magdalena.drafiova

DMPonline at Utrecht University by Jacques Flores

DMPonline is a data management planning tool created by the Digital Curation Center (DCC). What follows are the main reasons why we chose to opt for this tool here at Utrecht University.
Incentivize researchers to fill out DMPs by making it simple

DMPonline at the University of Sussex by Adam Harwood

The University of Sussex Library has been providing support for researchers on managing their research data for some time now and DMPonline has been one of the easiest quick wins to offer them when they are writing their DMPs.   Reactions on…

DMPonline at the University of Birmingham: the joys of a ‘tangible tool’ in a complex environment

Left to right: Georgina Hardy, Vicky Wallace, Judith Hegenbarth, James Barnett, Lynne Harris, Kam Bhurji
Data management planning, as we know, is a good thing; but the concepts around it can seem daunting for newcomers.  At University of Birmingh…

Beth Montague-Hellen shares how The University of Nottingham uses DMPonline

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.

DMPonline at Karolinska Institutet by Cecilia Bjorkdahl & Johan Lundeqvist

At Karolinska Institutet work on improving research documentation and data management took a big step forward ten years ago with the implementation of an electronic logbook system and increased support to our researchers. Last year DMPonline became the most recent addition to our electronic research support for documentation and data management. This was in part triggered by changes in funding requirements when one of our biggest national funders, the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) decided that starting in 2019 all their awarded projects required a data management plan before the start of the project. They also made it clear that the responsibility for this does not lie with the principal investigator, but with the university.

This enabled us to start working more strategically and focused on data management planning. In DMPonline we provide a DMP template that covers the requirements from the Swedish Research Council, with some adaptation to more local requirements and guidelines like our electronic logbook system and storage solutions. It is not mandatory to use DMPonline for our researchers, but it is the system we recommend – and the vast majority have chosen to use our template in DMPonline for their DMPs.

The PI is required to send the DMP to us at the Research Data Office for review and approval before project start. The internal review of the DMPs is an iterative process done together with our researchers until we have an agreed upon final version of the DMP. This process is partly manual since the researcher download the DMPs from DMPonline for the review – in the future we want to investigate the possibility of doing also at least part of the review within DMPonline.

Already being able to use the template function in DMPonline has greatly facilitated our review since the majority of the DMPs we have looked at follow the same pattern – makes for an easy and quick review.  We are keen to look at improving our template and guidance texts for this year’s coming projects.

We will also during this spring evaluate our usage of DMPonline and the DMP review process, both internally within our Research Data Office – where the review is managed – and ask our researchers for their input on both the process and the support provided. This will then form the basis for our continued work with DMPs.

The whole process, from the first meeting to launch, was completed and deployed in less than three months. This includes information to the grantees by e-mail, two workshops with researchers, development of the template and guidelines in DMPonline. A simple process for the review was established as well. With great help from the DMPonline staff, we even had our own branding done (, day before launch date.

We would like to say thank you to Cecilia Bjorkdahl & Johan Lundeqvist 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.


Beth Humphries shares how Bath Spa University uses DMPonline

Knowledge exchange 
DMPonline case study – Bath Spa University by Beth Humphries

Bath Spa University has research specialisms in social sciences, but also humanities and creative practice – areas where many researchers have not historically consi…

Peter Smith shares how Sheffield Hallam University uses DMPonline

Knowledge exchange 

DMPonline case study – Sheffield Hallam University by Peter Smith

Supporting our researchers with managing their data is an important part of the work of the Library Research Support (LRS) team at Sheffield Hallam University. As part of this service we offer information and guidance on all aspects of research data management (RDM.)

To do this we maintain a detailed RDM section on our website, provide training sessions on data management, and offer project specific guidance on data management and open data.

As part of its work to ensure that research has integrity and that researchers follow open research processes SHU policy states that all projects which involve data collection or generation must have a data management plan (DMP.)

DMPs are submitted as part of an ethics approval application. These plans are then reviewed by the LRS team as part of its data management support service. These DMP reviews are relatively ‘light touch’. The idea behind the reviews is that the researcher(s) can get advice and guidance on any elements of their plan that need it.

Once a plan has been reviewed the reviewer will add a reminder to their calendar, so that advice on data preservation and sharing can be offered when the project is complete. For externally funded projects this is an important part of ensuring compliance with open data requirements.

When it comes to writing the reviews our researchers have access to the DMPonline service, for which the team also provides support. We have basic information about the service on our website and introduce the service as part of induction sessions for doctoral researchers and support sessions for advisers, and researchers can request 1-2-1 support with using DMPonline.

We have added our generic SHU templates and guidance to DMPonline. There are two templates; one for staff projects, another for postgraduate research. The system also makes amending our data management guidance much easier. For example being able to add institution specific items, such as the web addresses of key policy documents, is a particular benefit of the system.

We have also been able to use the DMPonline template system to develop and update free-standing Word / PDF templates and guidance for researchers who prefer that to using an online tool.

DMPonline is also a helpful platform for providing access to completed plans, which is one of the main requests we get from researchers, particularly for examples of completed DMPs for the major funding bodies. Several of our researchers have made their plans available via the system.

The ability to export a plan in various formats is useful, as researchers can then easily add their plan to grant applications and the internal ethics application system. For group projects the ability to add editors to a plan is a very helpful feature.

Use of the tool is steady, with spikes in use occurring around postgraduate inductions and RDM events and sessions. In 2019 38 plans have been written so far using DMPonline, fairly equally divided between staff and postgraduate projects.

As well as being a useful tool for us and researchers, DMPonline connects us to a supportive RDM community. I recently attended an RDM ‘unconference’ organised by DCC where I met with a number of colleagues to discuss issues as varied as using tools to automate data gathering, the problems of storing sensitive data, and the creation of an EU wide data management infrastructure.

As part of our review of data management support at SHU we will be looking at how we use DMPonline and how we can promote it more effectively so that more people are using it to create and share their DMPs. This could include reviving our ‘Writing a DMP’ sessions which focused on hands on guidance using DMPonline. Perhaps our next blog post will be letting you know how that went!

We would like to say thank you to Peter Smith 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.

DMPonline at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam

The VU University Library, in close collaboration with faculty data stewards, supports researchers with tools, services and advice during all stages of the research life cycle. In 2019, a Research Data Support programme was set up at the VU to bring i…

DMPonline 2020 Utrecht User group

2020 has just started and we have already run our first user group in the Netherlands to ensure that we have a great start to the New Year! We gave an update on all the hard work done since the last user group in Autumn 2019 and explained plans for the coming year. Most importantly, we wanted to offer an open space for discussion and get as much suggestions and ideas from users as possible to ensure that DMPonline works well for you. Below is a summary from the day.

Our agenda for the day was packed with interesting talks, demos and space for discussion (there are links for the presentation slides in the agenda). Our key topic was revising the create plan wizard and template selection. We were also joined by the European Commission, NWO, ZonMw and FCCN to consider funder use cases as funders are becoming more and more involved in using our tool. 

An overview of presentations

We started the day with a roundtable intro and for the first time we made the user group open for attendees who wanted to join us remotely – thanks to those dialling in from Portugal and the UK. Sarah then presented the exciting work we have done over the past year. Sam showed a demo of full text API, and we have discussed forthcoming features planned during a December team meeting with our collaborators from CDL and DMPOPIDoR. The main planned work for the upcoming weeks is to improve usage statistics and make these more responsive, and easier to read and analyse for your institution. We are planning to upgrade to Rails v.5 and make DMPs more machine actionable (e.g. integration with F1000 Open Research Platform, FundRef, ROR and assigning DOIs…).

Magdalena presented some ideas on changing the display for the plan creation wizard. We have found that users don’t always understand the logic behind this or know how to select a certain template e.g. their uni requirement for PhD students. We presented four alternate wireframes and discussed which most people found clearest. The preference seems to be the researcher setting two filters (organisation and funder) then being presented with a drop down menu of all available templates. We plan to consult further on this within various contexts (with our collaborators in CDL, and our subscribed institutions outside Netherlands) as we need to ensure any change will work for all.

Carlos Casorrán from the European Commission explained the future plans for data management beyond H2020 under the next framework programme. Data management will continue to be in line with the FAIR principles, and data management plans should become living documents, have PIDs and rich metadata. An outline DMP is expected at the proposal stage and the DMP will be mandatory whether data are open or not. It is still to be decided whether evaluation of DMPs in proposals will come under impact or move to excellence which would give greater visibility and weight. Also the output to be covered in a DMP will not be just the data, but also the software, tools, workflows, protocols, algorithms or notebooks.

Your DMPonline feature wish list

A number of ideas were raised in discussions throughout the day. These are summarised below with thoughts on potential new features:

Enhanced DMP feedback functionality (#2365)

Data Stewards in the Netherlands are making great use of the new department feature to understand where researchers are based. This allows them to assign the right data steward when plans come in for review. There is a desire to better track the status of the plan review. So for instance, understanding whether the DMP has already been picked up by a data steward, whether the review has been started, or whether some comments were already added so work is not duplicated amongst the reviewers. We intend to add some basic status tracking to the plan feedback notification table. This will display the department (if in use), allow anyone with reviewer privileges to be allocated or to self-select a plan and will provide basic status indications to show whether work is in progress. You also suggested that we rename the ‘Comments’ tab to ‘Feedback’ so it’s more obvious to end users (#2366)

API extension to tag users with departments (#2235)

One feature that got raised in the last user group but we’ve not had time to work on yet is developing an API extension to allow institutions to extract all their user details, match these with data from local HR or other systems to match to departments, and issue an update to us so that the department of each user is selected in their profile. This saves existing users updating the entry and will make other features like allocation of plan reviews to data stewards work more effectively. You would also like us to add the department to the registration workflow for any new users.

Usage statistics (#2367)

We discussed the planned statistics work and got some additional requests. Dutch unis would like to know how many users come from each department and also how many plan reviews are associated with each department. Since we’re working on these features currently we welcome any other ideas. You would also like to be able to control the dashboard by personalising which usage statistics display. This may be beyond our current scope but we can explore options for more personalisation in future.

Ownership of plans (#2368)

The current logic behind the ownership of the plan is that when a user leaves/changes the institution in their profile, any DMPs also transfer as they are owned by the original creator. This means the plans will disappear from institutional statistics and administrator view permissions are lost. Institutions would like to have access to the plan, even when the user changes their affiliation, since the data may still be stored there and the plan approvals and funding assignment is linked to the institution the researcher was based at when they created the plan. In order to do this, we will need to update the terms and conditions for our users to make clear that affiliated institutions will retain access.

One other small feature you requested was to add a guidance configuration option on the admin interface so each institution can decide which guidance is selected by default (#2369). Currently it is a site-wide setting that DCC guidance is applied by default but we could easily adjust this.

Last but not least, would you find it useful to add a new field to user profile where the user could edit their profile to say they are e.g. PhD students? Get in touch with us to let us know.

Thanks and keep in touch!

As usual, we are very grateful that so many of you could make it for the day. It is lovely to see our community growing, and we are very lucky to work with you all. It is also fantastic to see that our DMPonline community is becoming more international and that funders are becoming more active in using DMPonline so that you get the space to interact with them more.

Just so you know, we are already planning our next user group for Spring 2020 in London, and we will be in touch with you about further details.

Last but not least – as always, we are keen to hear from you about how you use the tool and how we can improve it, so please feel free to contact us at the details below:

Do not forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter. To keep up with DMPonline news, you can subscribe to the RSS feed to receive our blogs and tweets, and watch GitHub for code updates. You can also discuss any of our new features on the user group mailing list