How to Support Faculty Writing Data Management Plans (DMPs)

by Natsuko Nicholls

Engineering Data Support Pilot at UM

As promised in the previous blog post, I’d like to share a narrative about Engineering librarians who have been increasingly engaged in offering data management services and resources for Michigan researchers.

At the University of Michigan, the Library’s Research Division has taken the lead in data service design and development while assessing needs and evaluating ways to organize the service. As part of developing support for research data management, a team of librarians have taken a pilot approach aimed at the College of Engineering (CoE) because of their high use of and creation of data. CoE received over 38million dollars from NSF and their total expenditure research was over 200 million dollars for 2013.

Through this pilot project, the team has had an opportunity to identify areas where the library can play a role in assisting researchers with data management, and has put forth proposals for immediate steps that the library can take in this regard. In particular, they are working to create DMP consultation services for Engineering that include the provision of a web-based NSF DMP guide and resources (e.g. LibGuide), in-person consultations for writing a DMP, faculty & graduate student workshops about data management planning, and overall promotion of new library data services as well as the importance of data management as an integral part of research. The first DMP workshop for Engineering faculty is scheduled on January 23, 2014.

Project Highlights

One of the highlights of this project was to conduct research and utilize research findings in order to accurately gauge researchers’ interest in and solicit evidence-based suggestions for potential data management services that are best suited for Engineering. To this end, the team conducted a faculty survey to assess the potential for research support improvement and reviewed 100+ DMPs written by Engineering faculty whose NSF proposal had been granted. The review of DMP confirmed some of the survey results: Faculty produced acceptable Data Management Plans, but many did not fully satisfy NSF DMP requirements. The team determined that creating a service to evaluate DMPs before they are submitted would be useful.

A key feature of this Engineering pilot project was to ensure that lessons learned from this pilot will provide a foundation for librarians to educate and assist researchers with managing their data throughout the research lifecycle.

The paper that summerizes and discusses findings from a faculty survey and a DMP analysis will be presented at IDCC14 in San Francisco, CA, 24-27 February. A full paper will become available after the conference.

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