Category: DMPonline

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.

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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 
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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.