Planning and Applying for Research Projects

The preservation and accessibility of research data are general desiderata and goals of scientific research and its funders in terms of good scientific practice. In order to foster and to reach these goals, it is advisable and increasingly demanded by institutions to start the occupation with all relevant issues concerning research data management, in time, which means in the preparation and application phase of research projects. Per definitionem, research data management issues touch the dealing with the data during and after the research project that means the archiving and publishing of the research results.

All relevant tasks and requirements should be identified and considered in accordance with the requirements for archiving and publishing research data. A so-called data management plan serves as a useful instrument to structure and organise the upcoming measures, challenges and chances.

  • What is a Data Management Plan
  • Leading Questions in the Planning Phase
  • Funding Regulations and Conditions for Granting
  • Tools to create a Data Management Plan (DMP)
  • Further Information and Literature

What is a Data Management Plan

A data management plan (DMP) is a document that is created and composed by researchers at the beginning of the planning phase of a research project. A DMP is increasingly demanded by funding agencies when appling for third-party project funding. That means it often has to be submitted to the funder together with the project application form with the goal to provide information about the research data managament during and after the project intending to identiy necessary tasks and to guarantuee appropriate measures in compliance with good scientific practice in means of preserving and publishing research data.

Besides, a DMP brings advantages for the research project and contributing researchers as well. It serves as an administration and management tool during the whole research project and provides an overview of own needs, upcoming problems and challenges to face. It reveals chances for publication and forces the responsile persons to make decisions and preparations in time. Therefore, it should be seen as a project management tool as well that should be updated from time to time.

Many different templates for a DMP exist depending on the funder or the instituion. All of these templates cover the elementary issues of research data management and request information about the intended dealing with the research data. This includes information about the collection, the processing, analysis, re-use and especially information about the storage, preservation, archiving and publishing of the research data.

Leading Questions in the Planning Phase

  • Does usable data for my research question already exist? How can these be integrated?
  • Which data will be generated in the research project?
  • How are the responsibilities for research data management regulated within the project and at the own institution?
  • Which persons and parties have to be involved?
  • Which legal and statutory requirements have to be observed?
  • Which procedures for organisation, storage and backup of the data will you use?
  • Who has to be authorised to access the data? Who can be authorised?
  • Where should the data be archived? Which data? Which file formats?
  • Which information and materialis are relevant and necessary for third parties to comprehend the data? Which information and metadata should be documented and submitted to the repository?
  • Which data can be published under which conditions of use?
  • Is it possible to enhance international findability, accessibility abd reusability of the data by using common international technical and documentary standards?
  • What costs can be estimated?

Information on international connectivity of the data is also often required in accordance with the FAIR Data principles. By using suitable technical and documentary standards and metadata, the four FAIR principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of data can be guaranteed. Therefore, this aspect should be taken into consideration when selecting the publishing institution.

Funding Regulations and Conditions for Granting

Concerning third-party funding, most of the relevant research funding agencies at national and European level require standardised statements and information on the intended research data management for the research project in the application procedure for research projects. More and more research programmes demand data management plans and provide templates for specific descriptions. Appropriate research data management plays a more and more important role in the application approval process.


In Germany, there is no natonal consistency in the application process concerning statements on research data management: Each funding agency and institution has its own regulations and requirements. Mostly, however, general statements on the planned management of the generated research data and on the preservation of the data are at least expected in orientation on good scientific practice.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) requires certain structured information on the handling of research data in the respective project context as part of the application process. Therefore, the DFG offers a questionnaire as a checklist for all necessary research data management aspects that have to be taken into account. In future, according to the DFG, the management of research data will play an even greater role when granting and reviewing project applications and outcomes. You can find a DFG overview on the topic here.

It is also worth mentioning the increased importance of research data and its management in the „Guidelines of safeguarding good scientific practice". The guidelines are manifested in the Code of Conduct: Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice (2019). In contrast to the previous version of the guidelines, research data get more attention, especially concerning their documentation, archiving and the publishing of research results and the underlying data and materials in demanded compliance with the FAIR Data Principles. This implies the postulate of preserving all relevant data and materials in a comprehensive way and the choice of appropriate publication services like repositories. The DFG guidelines keep in mind the discipline-specific practices and standards and ask for a corresponding discipline-specific addendum - a process still ongoing.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research  (BMBF) do not follow a uniform line yet. However, data management plans are prescribed for some funding programmes and foci, for example in the field of educational research.

Universities also recognise the importance of research data management and are increasingly developing policies, guidelines and specifications for research data practice with a focus on archiving and making data available. In cooperation and joint projects, the respective requirements of the participating institutions must be coordinated and taken into consideration.


At European level, EU Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe require the submission of a data management plan. The key reference are the FAIR Data principles and their compliance. Use the FAIR Data Maturity Model for guidance and as a specification of these requirements.
According to the grant agreement, data management plans must be updated regularly. In addition, where legally possible, research data generated in the project is expected to be published in open access via a trusted repository that is, at best, federated in the European Open Science Cloud.

Tools to create a Data Management Plan (DMP)

  • DMPOnline - Digital Curation Centre (DCC), UK
  • DMPTool - University of California Curation Center, US
  • RDMO – Research Data Management Organiser, BRD

Further Information and Literature

  • DCC. (2013): Checklist for a Data Management Plan. v.4.0. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre.
  • RatSWD [Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten] (2018): Forschungsdatenmanagement in den Sozial-, Verhaltens- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften – Orientierungshilfen für die Beantragung und Begutachtung datengenerierender und datennutzender Forschungsprojekte. RatSWD Output 3 (5).Berlin, Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten (RatSWD).
  • Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). (2012): Guidelines for Effective Data Management Plans. Ann Arbor, MI.

Services at Leuphana

In cooperation with Leuphana Research Service, the Media and Information Centre (MIZ) offers consulting and support around the application process for research projects. This includes active assistance in creating a data management plan and support by providing text modules for project applications regarding the topic of research data management and accompanying requirements.

Additionally, Leuphana university maintains and provides the DMP Tool RDMO (► to create and administrate DMP for individual projects using a specific Leuphana template. Please contact us for any support.



Thomas Schwager
Universitätsallee 1, CB.132
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1175

Martin Bilz
Universitätsallee 1, CB.105
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1113

Research Service

Dipl.-Oec. Anke Zerm
Universitätsallee 1, C10.204
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1692

Dr. Stefan Friedrich
Universitätsallee 1, C10.203
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1447