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Research Data Management

Data management plan

A data management plan (DMP) is usually prepared during the planning phase of a project. It describes the strategies for handling research data during and after the project. It includes information on all stages of the data life cycle from collection, preparation, storage, archiving to publication of the data.

The goal of a data management plan is to address the key technical, organizational, legal, and financial issues relevant to the successful implementation of the project as early as possible. As a result, a high data quality and easy reusability of the data, as well as transparent and efficient management of the data can be ensured.

Core requirements of a data management plan

The following topics should be addressed in a data management plan:

  • Information such as project title, funding agency, project number, contact information, project description, date of first version, date of last modification

  • How will new data be collected or generated and/or how will existing data be re-used?
  • What data (e.g. the kinds, formats, and volumes) will be collected, generated and/or analysed?

  • What metadata and documentation will accompany the data for more transparency?
  • What data quality control measures will be used?

  • How will data and metadata be stored and backed up during the research?
  • How will data security and protection of sensitive data be taken care of during the research process?

  • If personal data are processed, how will compliance with data protection legislation and data security regulations be ensured?
  • How will other legal issues, such as intellectual property rights and copyrights, be taken care of?
  • How will possible ethical issues be taken into account, and codes of conduct followed?

  • How will data for preservation be selected, and where will data be preserved long-term (for at least 10 years) (e.g. data repository or archive)?
  • How,  when and with whom will data be shared? Are there possible restrictions to data sharing or embargo reasons?
  • What methods or software tools will be needed to access and use the data?
  • How will the application of a unique and persistent identifier (e.g. DOI) to each datset be ensured?

  • What resources will be necessary for implementing data management und ensuring that the data will be FAIR?
  • Who will be responsible for data management?

The different types of data and project designs in the scientific disciplines require different ways of handling data. Therefore, there can be no general, standardized version of a data management plan. Instead, the different discipline-specific standards and project-specific circumstances must be considered when developing a data management plan.

Requirements of the funding agencies (March 2022)

Research funding agencies increasingly require that project proposals include a data management plan. The length can range from a few paragraphs to several pages, depending on the specifications of the research funders, the type of data, the project size, or the composition of the project team. What they all have in common, is that the data management plan discloses the information on the handling of research data that is required by the funding agencies.

Requirements A DMP is not required. However, according to the proposal preparation instructions [09/22], explanations on the handling of research data must be included in the project proposal (usually in section 2.4).
Update The information regarding research data management do not need to be updated during or after the project period.

Guidelines, recommendations and checklists of the DFG


A DMP is required for every project that generates or reuses research data. A first version of the DMP must be submitted within the first six months of the project (DMP template). However, in the project application phase only a short sketch of the planned research data management must be included in a section (max. 1 page). In certain cases, if required by the work program, a detailed DMP must be submitted at the time of submission or when signing the Model Grant Agreement.


An update of the initial DMP is required whenever important changes arise in the project (e.g., new data, changes in guidelines or consortium composition) or with the periodic evaluation of the project (mid-term and/or final review).

Horizon Europe guides, templates and tools
National contact points


Since the 2017 work programs, almost all applicants are required to prepare a DMP, as the Open Data Research Pilot has been applied by default since then. An initial version of the DMP must be submitted within the first six months of the project (DMP template; Annex 1 of the Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020).

However, projects have the option to "opt-out" if this can be sufficiently justified, e.g., due to intellectual property protection, commercial exploitation of results, or ethical or safety reasons.


An update of the initial DMP is required whenever important changes arise in the project (e.g., new data, changes in guidelines or consortium composition) or with the periodic evaluation of the project (mid-term and/or final review).

Horizon 2020 guidelines, tools and instructions

Recommendations A DMP is only required for some funding programs (e.g., in education research, coastal and marine research, or basic physics research on large-scale equipment). If a DMP is required, it must be attached to the project application.
Update Updating the DMP during or after the project period is usually not necessary. However, the decisive factor is always the regulations in the individual funding program.
Further information of the BMBF
  • Funding portal of the federal government (in German)
  • Forms cabinet for funding templates of the federal government (in German)
  • Guidelines for grant requests on an expenditure basis (AZA) (in German)




  • Checklist to develop a data management plan in the empirical educational research (in German) (Verbund Forschungsdaten Bildung, 2015)
  • Checklist to adapt your data management plan (CESSDA - Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives, 2019)
  • Elements of a data management plan (ICPSR - Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research)
  • Data Management Wizard (KomFor - Center of competence for research data in the earth and environmental science)
  • FAIRmat – Guide to Writing a Research Data Management Plan (NFDI consortium FAIRmat for the material science)

The following free online tools facilitate the development of data management plans by providing sets of questions to choose from, based on the requirements for handling research data of major national, European, and U.S. research funding agencies (e.g., European Commission, DFG, BMBF).

When setting up a project, a template can be selected that meets the requirements of the respective funding agency. After answering the questions in an input mask, a text file containing the DMP is created.



  • GFBio Data Management Plan Tool: Biological and environmental research
  • DataWiz Data Management System: Psychology
  • DMP Wizard of CLARIN-D: Humanities and cultural studies (especially for data storage in a CLARIN data centre)