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Data Management Plans as a Research Tool

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  • Research data has gained wider acceptance as important scholarly products in and of themselves, and funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), have introduced requirements for Data Management Plans (DMPs) and data archiving. Accordingly, academic and research libraries are devoting significant consideration, effort, and resources toward expanding their role to include Research Data Management (RDM) services. RDM services can include training in data management best practices, consultations for writing DMPs, and support for various data management components, such as creating metadata or choosing appropriate data repositories. Libraries are stepping up to the challenge to create, implement, market, and assess new RDM services that will meet the demands of their community. The DMPs that researchers submit with grant proposals are a rich source of data about a university’s researchers and their knowledge, capabilities, and needs. Analysis of DMPs can provide valuable insight into the kinds of data researchers are generating and how they intend to manage those data. In light of such potential value, collaborators from multiple large, public, universities developed an analytic rubric to evaluate NSF DMPs. The rubric was designed to be a research tool for academic librarians, to enable librarians to analyze a large body of DMPs from their institution for the purposes of better understanding the practices of the local community. Awareness of local practices is fundamental to providing RDM services that are tailored to the diverse needs of an institution’s faculty and students. For example, if researchers routinely obligate certain Library services in their DMPs, the Library has a better idea of how they should allocate limited resources for the highest impact. Whether a library is developing RDM services from scratch or looking to improve current RDM services, using the rubric to analyze DMPs will equip the library with the information they need to best support their community. A secondary purpose is for a researcher (and librarians as consultants) to critique an individual DMP before it is submitted alongside a grant application, thus avoiding submitting a plan with missing or limited content. Although tools - such as the DMPTool or DMP Online - help with the creation of a DMP, there is no standardized tool to aid with the evaluation of the quality of a DMP. Further, nothing has been developed to enable large-scale evaluation of DMPs for research purposes. We expect our rubric to fill this need. Our poster will describe the rubric we have created, detail how we developed the tool, and explain how it can be used by academic librarians to analyze NSF data management plans. We will highlight examples from the rubric itself and show how it has been used in our initial testing. Participation in the poster session will allow us to engage directly with academic and research librarians, both to demonstrate the rubric in person as needed, and to solicit valuable feedback on the tool and its utility to the academic library community.
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  • Portland, Oregon, USA
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  • Institute of Museum and Library Services; grant number LG-07-13-0328.
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