A data management plan (DMP) is a tool that outlines how data will be managed and shared throughout the lifespan of a project (Miksa et al. 2019; Smale et al. 2018). When used effectively, DMPs support data management planning, active data management, as well as FAIR data sharing. However, research examining the utility of DMPs thus far has found that the quality of the DMP is not indicative of either research funding or data sharing (Mannheimer 2018; Mischo et al. 2014). Additionally, research suggests that DMPs are typically poorly planned and inadequate as a research tool as a result of the variability of requirements and lack of compliance (Smale et al. 2018; Hudson and Moulaison-Sandy 2019). Thus, it is vital that initiatives to improve DMPs as a valuable research tool for researchers, research support services including those offered at institutions, funders, and publishers are supported to advance open science and research reproducibility.
Groups within RDA, including the DMP Common Standard WG and Exposing DMPs WG, have worked to establish standards and best practices for machine-actionable DMPs as well as a reference model and recommendations for sharing data management plans. While these efforts drastically advance the progress of making DMPs an effective research tool for numerous stakeholders, they could be supplemented with more detailed, disciplinary-specific guidance. Thus, to further advance the relevance, effectiveness, and utility of DMPs, discipline-specific guidance is a necessary component. The discipline-specific adaptations allow DMPs to be better integrated into research. The DMP is then adapted to the needs of the researchers and the challenges of the respective discipline. This makes life easier for the researchers. A first known attempt in this direction comes from the engineering sciences. The results would be extended with this WG.
Therefore, the goal of this session is to engage with the community to gather feedback and assess interest for the proposed creation of a new working group focused on advancing discipline-specific guidance for data management plans as well as collaborate with related RDA groups to imagine how efforts could be merged to further improve DMPs.
Initial work in this area was initiated during the Active DMP Interest Group session at the 14th Plenary in Helsinki, Finland. During this session, a lack of discipline specific guidance for data management planning was identified as an area that needed development to support the work of the other working groups (DMP Common Standard WG, Exposing DMPs WG, Engaging Researchers with Research Data IG) as well as to more effectively support data management planning stakeholders such as service providers, funders, institutions, and researchers. Individuals interested in this topic with expertise in data management planning support for behavioral and social sciences, life sciences, medical sciences, and engineering have since worked together to develop a working group charter.
Lastly, it is vital that this work continue within the international community to fully support improving the effectiveness of DMPs. Research environments increasingly involve international collaborations, thus it is important to represent varying available tools and policy requirements within the discipline-specific guidance.