Open Research Data: SNSF issues guidelines for data management plan

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What should go into the data management plans of applications for SNSF project funding? Detailed guidelines now tell researchers what they need to know.

Research data and research findings funded by public money should be freely accessible to all. This is the principle of open research data supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). In a first step, the SNSF will introduce data management plans (DMPs) as an integral part of research applications as of October 2017.

Applicants must enter a DMP that is understandable, suits their project and meets the standards set by their research community. At this stage, the DMP is considered a draft and excluded from the evaluation process. If the SNSF approves the application, the grant holders will be able to adapt, improve or enhance their DMP for as long as the project lasts. The definitive DMP must be provided by the end of the project at the latest.

Further information on compiling a DMP can be found in the guidelines for researchers on the SNSF website. The guidelines include all the questions that researchers should be aware of when drafting their DMP. In addition, the website provides examples of DMPs as well as links to different repositories.

Workshops and learning from each other

The SNSF sees the period between submission of the DMP with the project proposal and the upload of research data to digital databases as a learning curve for both sides, the researchers and the SNSF. In view of the vital need for information on open research data, the SNSF has put together a set of links on national and international developments as well as a catalogue of frequently asked questions about open research data. The information and FAQs are regularly updated.

In addition, the SNSF supports workshops on open research data. Research communities wishing to discuss best practices for DMPs, data formats or the suitability of repositories can submit an application for a workshop grant under the new scheme for Scientific Exchanges. By way of an exception, the SNSF will accept funding applications for such workshops at short notice until October 2017.

Data management plans are meant to encourage researchers to reflect on the lifecycle of their data before starting out on their project. If the data have already been published, they should be made available in non-commercial, digital databases along with the metadata. The data format should be such that all interested persons can locate, access and reuse the data, provided there are no legal, ethical or intellectual property constraints. The SNSF will contribute around 10,000 Swiss francs to cover the costs of preparing data for their upload and of the upload itself.