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Research Data Planning

Basic assistance for those encounting data management planning for the first time

Data Management

Dozens of federal funding agencies, many non-profit granting agencies, and some corporate funders now require grant applicants to submit a "data management plan" document. Data Mangement tends to be more infomal in South Africa , so reserchers can see this section as being adminstrative  Its is important for South African researchers not to gloss over this section as it might make a grant application, less competitive than researcher in other countries where data management planning is more routinely required. You might often find even when there is not a formal Data Mangmement Plan  that your grant application included  data quality assurance ,  security and so on . A formal data mangment plan can adress those questions as well.


As of January 18, 2011, the National Science Foundation requires all proposals to include a data management plan as a supplementary document. This document must be no longer than two pages in length (although investigators may use a portion of the 15-page project description for a data management plan longer than two pages) and should describe how the proposed project will conform with NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.

Several NSF Divisions and Directorates have specific requirements for data management plans, including:

Engineering Directorate (ENG)

Directorate-wide Guidance

Geological Sciences Directorate (GEO)

Division of Earth Sciences 
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program 
Division of Ocean Sciences

Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS)

Division of Astronomical Sciences 
Division of Chemistry 
Division of Materials Research 
Division of Mathematical Sciences 
Division of Physics

Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) 
Directorate-wide Guidance

Be sure to carefully review program solicitations or individual NSF Division and Directorate web pages for additional information.

In England

The Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council  have asked for much higher and more formal levels of research data management including the writing of plans.



See Yale's Research Data Management guide for more information.

Citation of Datasets


Data requires citations for the same reasons journal articles and other types of publications require citations: to acknowledge the original author/producer and to help other researchers find the resource . citation are also to software that you use in data anaylisis 

For  Example in APA 6th style

Data Sets:Simmons Market Research Bureau. (2000). Simmons national consumer survey [Data file].
New York, NY: Author.

Data Analysis Software

Below is a list of available software, to help you analyze, manage, and visualize data. Contact your Data Services Librarian for assistance.

Key Concepts

Data collection is the systematic recording of information;

Data analysis involves working to uncover patterns and trends in datasets;

Data interpretation involves explaining those patterns and trends. Scientists interpret data based on their background knowledge and experience; thus, different scientists can interpret the same data in different ways. By publishing their data and the techniques they used to analyze and interpret those data, scientists give the community the opportunity to both review the data and use them in future research.

From: Visionlearning

Data Presentation

Results can be presented in textual and non-textual form. See the resources below, for best practices on non-textual data presentation (i.e. charts, tables, etc.).