Good data management occurs throughout the research workflow: before, during and after your research project. Before the research begins:
Step 1: Create a Data Management Plan
A data management plan is a written plan of how digital data will be handled during and after a project. A data management plan for a U.S. DOT-funded research project provides a two- to three-page narrative in five sections:
See Data Management Plans for more information.
Source: National Transportation Library.
The first step of data management is an easy one: make a data inventory. Your data inventory should cover:
Creating a complete inventory is an important step even though you may only be able to provide a summary in a federal DMP due to length.
Plan to retain, share and make accessible any data that would help others validate your research findings. You should also consider preserving/sharing data that:
Research data covered by a data management plan could include:
The definition of research data used by U.S. DOT is adapted from OMB Circular A-110:
Research data is defined as the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings, but not any of the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues. This "recorded" material excludes physical objects (e.g., laboratory samples). Research data also do include:
(A) Trade secrets, commercial information, materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information which is protected under law; and
(B) Personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular person in a research study.
How to Share Publications and Datasets Under the USDOT Public Data Access Plan, presentation, National Transportation Library, February 2018.
Best Practices for Preparing Science Data to Share, U.S. Geological Survey, 2013.
► Learn more: USGS data management training modules