Category: 2020

DMPonline training debrief

DMPonline training debrief


As a follow up to our DMPonline training last week, here is a summary of actions and requests for further inputs from you. Feel free to leave comments on the blog or share your views in the training Slack channel or direct to our helpdesk. We’ll prioritise work as a result. You can jump to the sections that most interest you with the links below


Conditional questions


This will be deployed to DMPonline on Wednesday 29th April between 9-11am BST. There is one small usability fix (#2476) we have included in the current release. Additions to delay email notifications (#2475) will come following the Rails v.5 upgrade. We will also add conditional questions to the template preview in that forthcoming sprint (#2487). 


We have added this to the user guide and released a video tutorial. The code also remains on the DMPonline-dev site which is our pre-production server. If you would like to trial things with colleagues there by all means do, but be aware that data is periodically overwritten and we frequently push new code there to perform User Acceptance Testing so changes will occur.


Two feature requests on conditional questions which we want to consult with you on are:


1. Adding as well as removing questions in response to a certain answers, 

The current conditional questions logic means that the most full template is loaded as standard, which may be off-putting for users. Admin users requested functionality to add a series of extra questions in response to an answer, not just remove them. If lots of additional questions are included though, users could get frustrated as they can’t see the full extent of what they will be asked and keep getting additions when they thought their DMP was nearly complete.


  • To what extent does the current functionality give you what you need? 
  • How high a priority is this feature to add, not just remove questions?

2. Adding custom email triggers depending on the departmental affiliation

Admins requested an extension to the conditional questions to adjust where email notifications are sent based on the department/school in question e.g. if a trigger is set for a large data volume, this should alert the data steward in the relevant department


  • Where should the user affiliation be derived from? The original DMP creator or person answering the question?
  • How many organisations would want to use this feature? 
  • Where does it rank in your order of priorities?

Department and School features

Two suggestions were made with respect to departments/schools which we would welcome your feedback on:


3.Allow users to have multiple departmental affiliations

Some of you were interested in users being able to have multiple affiliations. This is certainly feasible, but we would need to scope out the requirements more fully:

  • How many organisations would like multiple departmental / school affiliations 
  • Would all the contacts for every departmental affiliation be sent email notifications or requests for plan review, or would there be a primary affiliation?
  • How would these affiliations affect guidance displayed to the user?
  • What other expectations / needs do you have for this?

4. Add multiple DMP feedback email addresses, not just one generic one

Some of you were interested in being able to specify different email addresses depending on the school/department, as you have different data stewards who offer DMP feedback.The preference was for each organisation to be able to configure this themselves by School/Dept. 

  • How many organisations would like to set multiple email addresses rather than having one generic helpdesk email?
  • How and where would you like these email addresses to be displayed? On the user interface or just to be used when DMP feedback requests are emailed to admins?
  • Is this requirement covered by the planned extension of the plan review functionality?

Plan review functionality

Several aspects were also raised in regard to the DMP feedback process. We plan to extend this functionality so would like to check our current thinking with you:


5. Enhance the notifications table to support allocation and progress tracking

In the last DMPonline user group, you asked us to extend the notifications table that you see when DMPs are submitted for feedback. This will help you assign reviews across the team and track progress. We have suggested some potential columns and dropdowns but there may be other things to add e.g. date submitted, data checked by data manager. See #2365

  • To what extent do the extensions we have suggested meet your needs?
  • What dropdown status indicators are needed, if any?
  • How should the assignment work? All admins self-assign or have an ability to assign to others and notify by email?
  • Does the process of assigning DMP reviewers work (we would list all users with this privilege) or do you want separate email addresses and notifications based on the users’ school/dept affiliation?

6. Add an ‘export comments’ option on the DMP download page

As part of your plan review workflows, you sometimes want to see all the comments with the plan. It was proposed to add an option to let users download the DMP with comments, just as you can choose to include a cover page or not.

  • Is this a feature you would find useful?
  • Given that comments are sometimes discussions between researchers not just plan reviews, are we ok to expose comments?

7. Make some comments ‘sticky’ and unable to be deleted

Some comments are critical and shouldn’t be deleted. There are two aspects to this. Firstly, we think we should change the permissions so only the commenter can delete their comment. In addition we propose having a separate overall reviewer comment and set of actions that appears at a DMP-wide level, not per question. This allows you to give summary guidance and any critical actions e.g. to change the consent and data sharing plans as it breaches DPA. 

  • Is it correct to only allow users to delete their own comment?
  • Would an overall review comment field and ability to set actions be useful?
  • Could this feature remove the need to download comments? Or perhaps this review comment could be downloaded rather than all comments per question?
  • If a more formal review process and official institutional approval is needed, should this be tied to plan versioning (e.g. v.2 was reviewed and approved by the uni)

Other requests

There were several other comments which we have raised as actions:

  • We have raised a ticket to make the one-click plan creation link stable so it can be used elsewhere on your RDM support webpages (#2489)
  • We’ll add the plan ID to the coversheet on DMP download. This is a persistent URL within DMPonline so can be used as a stable reference in other systems (#2478)
  • We will update the progress bar so it doesn’t show anything when no questions have been completed ( #2480)
  • We will cache your csv download preference (comma- tab- or hash-separated) from the usage dashboard page and apply this to all downloads of users and plans (#2490)
  • We will fix the bug on sorting users by dept/school (#2491)
  • We’ll prioritise the XML download so you can make better use of DMP content (#2237)
  • Magdalena, Diana and Sarah will update funder templates. We’ll specifically look at Cancer Research UK, different calls for Swedish Research Council and the Future Leaders Fellows call. If there are others you want us to review, please let us know

Machine actionable DMP features

Our colleagues at the California Digital Library have been progressing some new features in our machine-actionable DMP work. The latest updates are available for trial on DMPonline-test. The test site does not have any of the custom, tenant branding. It’s where we trial new functionality for ongoing DMPRoadmap development and sign-off on it before we create a release and eventually deploy to DMPonline.


We encourage you to view and comment on the forthcoming features. They include:

  • An integration with the Research Organisation Registry so we are using persistent identifiers for organisations (#2339)
  • Adding project start and end dates to ‘Project details’ to conform with the RDA Common Standard for DMPs (#2409)
  • Adding a contributor tab so we can list and give credit for the different roles using the CRediT taxonomy (#2349)
  • An update to the API (#2390)

We anticipate changing some of the layouts and interface design around these features as you will see in the ticket comments. Your feedback will help us to define priorities on progressing this work and when we schedule deployment to DMPonline.


Future DMPonline training 

We were really pleased with how the training went and plan to do more. The length of the session was a little intense for us – and probably you too! As a result we plan to do shorter one-hour sessions focusing on a single feature. If there are topics you are particularly keen to see covered in this lockdown lessons series, please let us know.


Many of you had wanted to know more about the API so we’ll begin in late May with an introductory, walk-through demo where we go at a slow pace so we can all follow along in real time. We will also keep the DMPonline training slack channel open and use this for training events and possibly user groups so we can troubleshoot and talk through as you try out features.

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:

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