Data Management De-Mystified

So obviously data management is a huge buzz word in the scientific and librarian communities right now, but what does it actually mean and how does an individual or organization go about implementing a data management plan (DMP)?  There is a lot of current literature batting this term around but it is often spoken of in a vague manner.  Even the funding agencies that are mandating DMPs as a provision of their financial assistance are not clear on their expectations and often give very little practical assistance in implementing a DMP.  A recent study conducted by librarians and graduate students from Cornell and Syracuse respectively, looked at 22 different policies from 10 of the major funders of research in the United States.

They found that, “these policies reveal gaps between data management goals and implementation realities, as policy requirements were vague. Many funders had policies stating data be made accessible yet did not supply implementation details. Funding for data preservation efforts continues to be an area of concern for both PIs and information professionals, yet we found that detailed language about funding for data management activities was only included in eight of the policies we studied.”

Expecting researchers to sift through the myriad of literature on DMP to satisfy vague requirements seems like somewhat of a waste of their precious time.  This again is another avenue where the services of librarians can be utilized to assist in this process.

“Understanding the data requirements researchers face with respect to data management is key: knowing which requirements are vague or under-supported reveals opportunities for outreach, education, and participation with researchers. As we noted, many of the data policies are more likely to be general rather than specific, and so information professionals have the opportunity to become involved, especially in these specific data management areas. Providing guidance in the selection of appropriate standards is one avenue for involvement; other avenues may include providing documentation on evaluation criteria for metadata and data standards or participating in the development of discipline-specific metadata and data standards.”

Dietrich, D., Adamus, T., Miner, A., & Steinhart, G. (2012). De-mystifying the data management requirements of research funders. Issues in science and technology librarianship, 70.

Retrieved from


noun plural but singular or plural in construction, often attributive \ˈdā-tə, ˈda- also ˈdä-\

1: factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation

2: information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful

3: information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed


noun \ˈma-nij-mənt\

1: the act or art of managing : the conducting or supervising of something (as a business)

2: judicious use of means to accomplish an end

3: the collective body of those who manage or direct an enterprise



One thought on “Data Management De-Mystified

  1. Pingback: Data Management De-Mystified | Hack E-Science Librarianship | Professional development of Librarians |

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