Library Partners on Data Tool

A group of major research institutions is partnering to develop a flexible online tool to help researchers generate data management plans.  This effort is in response to demands from funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that researchers plan for managing their research data.

The partners in this project include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library, the UCLA Library, the UCSD Libraries, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Virginia Library, DataONE, and the United Kingdom’s Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

By joining forces, the partners expect to consolidate expertise and reduce costs in addressing data management needs.  The primary goal of the partnership is to simplify the process of creating plans while increasing the quality of decisions made by funders to pre-define policies and infrastructures that support research activities. University Librarian Paula Kaufman stated, “Illinois researchers will directly benefit from this tool to ease the development of data management plans.  We are excited about this opportunity to further extend our services in data stewardship and management.”

The tool for generating data management plans (DMP) will be based on DMP Online, a software tool developed by the DCC and designed to accommodate different funder requirements; this function will be tested by tailoring it to the requirements of U.S. research funding agencies and the institutions they fund.  It will be publicly available, allowing researchers at all institutions to initiate a data management plan quickly and provide answers to various data management questions relating to their research, such as how data will be documented throughout the research project and made available for public use and potential secondary uses, how data quality will be assured, data backup procedures, and preservation plans.  The tool will make the entire process easier, less expensive, and more consistent in moving research data management forward at the national and international levels.  It will also aid institutions in identifying associated costs and in future resource planning.  The new version of the DMP is expected to be available within the next several months.

Kevin Ashley, DCC director, stated, “Research is an international activity, and data management planning is also international in scope. Funders around the world already require such plans with grant applications or as a condition of funding; many more are planning to do so. The DCC is pleased to be part of this work to develop planning tools that also have international utility and relevance.”

In fiscal year 2010, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received nearly $179.5 million from NSF alone through more than 400 grants ranging from $3,000 to $90 million.  “The potential impact of the data management requirements on researchers is enormous,” said Kaufman.

Andrew Alleyne, Ralph M. & Catherine V. Fisher Professor of Engineering and Associate Dean for Research at the College of Engineering, states: “With the help of the University of Illinois Library, several of our College of Engineering faculty were able to put together a strong and comprehensive data management plan for our NSF proposals.  The online DMP tool will provide a great service to our faculty by allowing them to seamlessly and easily build data management plans for grant proposals.”

The focus of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is to provide campus-wide IT strategies that will contribute to the success of the university as an intellectual community and facilitate pre-eminence in research, education, and outreach.  For more information, please visit .

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